Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Girl Meets World Reviewed: Girl Meets The Real World (S3E11)

I'm evil now.

What is it? Yeah if you don't know what Girl Meets World is by this point blah blah blah....

Let me open up by saying that this is probably the best pre-credits cold opening of the entire series, or at least tied with Meets She Don't Like Me (yes, I stand by my assertion that that episode is the best of the series). Riley's debate style and her reaction to Farkle is spot on

And then the intro credits roll and from there the episode is kind of...well better than muweeeeeeeeeeaaaaaauuuhhhhhh but it's not going to be as great as She Don't Like Me or even Meets the New Teacher. 

Now, the character of Riley is kind of a controversial character, and in perhaps exactly in the way a show can least afford - it's when the audience starts debating with itself is this character actually good and/or necessary? Certainly not the kind of controversy you need for your main freakin' character. A lot of this controversy centers around the very being of Riley as the show sets her up - a perpetually happy-go-lucky pixie sprite who might as well be fueled by all the Sweet Tarts in the world along with enough orange soda to make Kel's jaw drop. For people who are used to and expecting Boy Meets World, or even Liv and Maddie, or FFS even Jessie...yeah, she tends to be a character who revels in being right on the nose about things. We saw this at its nadir in Season 2 - Meets Gravity, Meets the Tell Tale Tot, Meets Fish and on and on - and of course we continued to see this in Season 3 with Meets Bleeeeech School and on and on and on.

Well guess what in this episode they actually work with it, and perhaps in no other subject area than the very discussion of good vs. evil do they have such an opportunity to play with and potentially deconstruct the manic pixie fairie that is Riley I Forgot Her Middle Name Matthews.

A deconstruction the show...kind of more or less sorta does in exactly the way you'd be expecting this show to pull. Oh, don't get me wrong, the show doesn't chicken out at all and the episode certainly excells at it. When it comes to character this episode is as spot-on as Riley's face-making from before the credits and it's probably one of the better character episodes. Unfortunately the other great failing of this show is its propensity to tell instead of show, something I've harped on in, come to think of it, virtually every single GMW review I've ever written on this blog and something this episode does in spades - in fact something like 80% of this episode is Riley and friends telling each other about their naval gazing contemplating the nature of good vs. evil, a ratio I feel very accurately describes the show in general.

Is the other 20% worth sticking around for? Well besides the fantastic debate scene, we get Riley stealing Zay's cookie, and a big classroom scene that for once actually amounts to something so I'd say yes.

Other than the bad habit of telling vs. showing that I feel ultimately helped sink the show (but of course that's an earlier blog post) the biggest issue I have with the episode is the matter of how to exactly approach the whole good vs. evil debate. Yes, I'm well aware that being a "heavy hitting" series is what Boy Meets World got a very good reputation for, and something GMW fans were hoping for, and were in fact so desperately hoping for that I feel in a lot of episodes and places they flat out imagined a lot going on that simply was never there. The issues it handled simply were not big issues to begin with, or issues about the stupid frickin' love triangle, or the issues were simply so massively and mindblowingly mishandled it seriously brings to question just how the hell did Jacobs impart this lesson to his own children (again, I refer to Meets the Tell-Tale Tot). After a while it really made the show feel like it's trying to be a 90s after school special (but again, earlier blog post). 

That said, the whole good vs. evil debate really is something this type of show can if not should handle, and it's one of those things that people were exactly expecting when they were first imagining the GMW possibilities. It's not exactly an issue that effects everyone watching, but its an issue that's very important to them nonetheless, especially with anyone from younger tweens to even middle or older teens. 

Too bad they more or less bungled it again. The question they should be asking isn't why do people do evil. Here's the big secret - Hitler didn't think he was evil. ISIS/ISIL doesn't think they're evil. Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold, the boys who shot up Columbine High School and consequently killed themselves, didn't think they were evil. Hitler thought he was doing what was best for Germany and to at least some extent the entire human race. ISIL very, very literally thinks they are doing God's work and that they represent the highest form of good on the planet right now. Harris and Klebold didn't think they were evil - in fact, they were responding to what they perceived was evil being done to them. And the thing is, based on what I'v read and know about bullying they experienced - they have a point. Now, obviously, killing those bullies and a bunch of other people in cold blood is a very incorrect response - one might even say an evil response - but that doesn't excuse that the bullying done to them is in turn evil.

That's not to say the show doesn't have a point about evil people doing it "for fun" - that's that whole bullying thing again - but the most evil acts were committed by people who think they were fighting evil and often times carrying God's work. People don't ignore climate change because they're evil, they ignore climate change because they're not educated in climate change (or rather, educated incorrectly about climate change which is way, way harder to reverse) and because they value keeping the jobs they fear will be lost due to making factories and energy production green-compliant over environmental concerns. 

That's not evil. 

People don't go to war because they're evil or because it's fun, people go to war because of very important, fundamental and irreconcilable differences in government, resources or other extremely important topics. Or to put it in another way from a source that I had heard a little earlier, people go to war often because they refuse to hear out the other side and consider their position in thinking.

Now, I'd really like to properly credit where I heard that but I'm having some trouble remembering where I heard that - oh, hey, wait a minute, that was from the beginning of this very same frickin' episode.

That's what you need to address when you talk about good vs evil. When kids learn about what motivated Harris and Klebold to kill a bunch of kids and themselves, kids will learn better how to prevent themselves or other people on how to not do that.

Way to drop the ball yet again, Jacobs. At this rate you can play wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins.

Episode Grade: A flat B. Hey, at least it tried, and it had legitimately entertaining moments.
Episode MVP: Rowan absolutely nailed it here, though Amir came so, sooo dangerously close from outright stealing it from her. It's so close, in fact, that I feel I have to co-award Episode MVP to the both of them (yeah this blog sure loves handing out MVP awards like candy. To multiple people in the same episode, to multiple actors who never appeared in the episode, to random YouTube car reviewers, to myself....)

Extra Thoughts

- I did promise our next review would be of Drake and Josh. Given that one of the last things we reviewed was Zoe Gone starring Sammi Hanratty, and given Mike's surprise that she was on Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Drake and Josh, I'd like to review the D&J episode Foam Finger since that's an episode Sammi appears in (and it happens to be one of my favorites and I feel a perfect encapsulation for why this series is so great). I actually had it on my DVR on the very day I published the Zoe Gone review but then it got quickly deleted, and I'm having trouble finding it elsewhere. Damn.

 - I really hope Amir Mitchell-Townes continues to find roles, especially when he's still young and can deeply entrench himself in the Hollywood system. Same for Rowan, too.

 - This episode was, of course, originally named "Girl Meets Sassy Halter-Top" and given that this is my first viewing this episode, yeah, now it makes sense. Really it can go either way in terms of the title - I mean, Girl (Riley) really did, literally meet Sassy Halter-Top, even if said Sassy Halter-Top was a character that existed strictly as a theoretical (see a lot of other shows actually would've put up a sequence where we see Sassy Halter-Top on Riley's shoulder - yup, it's more of that tell, not show love that Jacobs loves). But, then again Riley also met the Real World and...well out of context (which is how virtually all people will initially meet the title) Meets Sassy Halter-Top was a dumb title, not to mention risking the type of controversy the show doesn't really need.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

IMDb Boards 1994 (or whenever)-2017: Good Riddance

Depending on exactly when they're going to pull the plug, either today or tomorrow will be the last day the IMDb boards will be active. It's yet to be seen if the current boards are going to be archived or removed entirely (more on that later). With so many things coming to a close in 2017 (not just GMW or even Liv and Maddie, which like it or not was always going to be a blip on the cultural radar, but things that have had more persistence - Disney's Club Penguin, for example, which will close its servers down next month) it's easy to see 2017 being a year of finales, and seeing these changes even as being "bad," but things don't shutter down for no reason. In fact, while the IMDb boards had at one point been a useful resource (particularly for Disney Channel and Nick enthusiasts and their parents in 2012-2014, the last hurrah of Disney Channel's ratings dominance - and I'd like to point out that not only it's how most people found out about GMWReviewed from Christian's post on there, including how I myself found it, but it's also how I met Mike) it's finally clear to IMDb themselves that their time has come and gone and it's time to ditch the system. Here's an outline of those reasons:

It had become a troll haven

This is probably the most outwardly obvious reason, but it's also the least important: most message boards like heavy traffic and they don't care what form it takes, even if it is trolls (but more on that later too). If you've been hanging around the GMW boards on IMDb in particular, I don't think I need to explain this one that much. You've got specific trolls, including "crotchrocket" who is probably the most overt troll in that he makes it the most blatant; but you also have "Manna-Fest" who turned multiple threads into multiple-page ordeals with constant arguing back and fourth, and a few others (those are the most prominent trolls so those two are the ones that come to mind the most). And of course that's just for GMW; other boards had no shortage of trolls either.

It had specifically become an alt-right haven

As unfortunately seems to be the case of things in general lately (look at just the actual, real-life pervading attitude of the nation right now, most personified in the President it had elected) but message boards in particular seem to be swinging not just right, but alt-right specifically. What do I mean by alt-right? Well you can probably just Google it yourself, but at its most base it means exactly what you think it means - right-wing but an "alternative" to the "mainstream" right. Unfortunately rather than swinging more moderate it's swinging the exact opposite direction, back towards deep-seeded racist and discriminatory roots dating from the 1920s in particular (corresponding with the rise of the KKK). And when I say going back to "these roots" I don't mean the Republican Party in particular, but basically back to a time "when racism was cool" in general. 

Probably no other board exemplifies the alt-right swing on IMDb more than Last Man Standing, a show that practically specifically caters to the growing alt-right base (if you remember, we got "invaded" by IMDb LMS denizens when I did a [positive!] review of that show, causing me to cease anonymous posting, a policy that has stood until recently). Some examples of some active topics there are "Sure to give liberals conniptions," "Politics" (you can take a guess which direction that topic has swung), and "pro-war and pro-guns" (a topic started by a liberal that predictably took an immediate turn alt-right). Needless to say I'm not going to miss this section of IMDb.

Not that LMS is a unique example just because it catered to a particular and particularly distasteful political base: The Dark Knight Rises' boards had a tendency to swing alt-right in its longer threads, and hell we've seen it on the GMW board in reaction to Rowan's apparent social justice leanings.

Again, though, that's not a specific reason why the boards are going down as so much just a reason to celebrate them going down (and now I got the Ke$ha/Pitbull song stuck in my head). Again, IMDb likes traffic, and whether it's alt-right or not, they can live with it. No, rather....

The vast, vast majority of the IMDb boards simply sat inactive

Now we're getting to the real core of the issue. Remember when I was talking about 2012-2014 being peak time for both Disney Channel itself and its related IMDb boards? The last half of 2012 (right when I was starting to get into this thing) was a real golden time for KidComs on IMDb; most of the network's most popular shows had either just very recently ended or were still going on and both networks were still capable of drawing older and even adult demos to some extent (or at least better than what eventually came out of GMW). Discussions were very lively on Austin & Ally, Jessie, even A.N.T. Farm (which were all still relatively new shows at the time - wow how time flies!) Wizards of Waverly Place just ended early in the year and around that time it was just revealed that they were working on a Wizards vs. Wizards one-shot comeback special. Good Luck Charlie and Shake it Up! were at their peaks. Even Hannah Montana and On Deck were still recent memories, having ended only the year prior. Liv and Maddie was a thing only to those people who were most obsessively paying attention to new show schedules, especially since the announcement (and delay) of GMW stole the spotlight (as that show is wont to tend to do with its network siblings, but that was an earlier blog entry already). Over on Nick, iCarly was still airing new episodes (although the number was rapidly winding down so that you didn't even need a whole hand to count 'em), How to Rock was still a thing and it'd still be a year out before BTR would air its final episode, and Victorious would still be rolling out new episodes for the next few months. We were all excited about Sam & Cat and even Wendell and Vinnie, given how we hadn't yet been exposed to how awful either show would turn out, and neither Haunted Hathaways and Thundermans had even been announced yet. 

Fast forward to the present. Each and every show on that list that has died (which is all of them save for Liv and Maddie for the next month) has taken its IMDb board with it, with some minor exceptions here and there (people still post on the iCarly and Victorious boards here and there which really speaks to those shows' longevity, and if nothing else the end of GMW was so recent mere inertia will carry it to IMDb's end). The KidCom discussion landscape on IMDb has become an absolute ghost town. When GMW premiered, it stole the spotlight again and most of the KidCom discussion migrated there (for better or worse - I'd argue the latter, but again that's already an earlier blog post) and whatever trickle of posting that had sustained for example the A.N.T. Farm boards starting near its finale almost immediately dried up. When interest in posting on the GMW boards started to wane, interest on the KidCom boards in general started to wane with it (not a lot of discussion with Bizaardvark or Bunk'd besides hatedom it seems, even though those are current shows).

I'm just using that example because it's the most relevant to this blog, but it's the vast majority of the status quo on IMDb. There are far, far more shows that have "expired" through the years than shows that are kept alive now (bearing in mind both the long history of television and how most series end up being one or two-season wonders) and each and every one of them has a message board by default, not to mention the tens of thousands if not more actors that also have their own boards by default. Most of these have just one or two topics period in their entire posting histories (many featuring the latest posting dating back years or even in some cases over a decade) and especially for very obscure shows, movies and actors the post count is exactly zero. Which leads to the biggest reason of all as to why IMDb is shuttering down its message boards:

It's very expensive to maintain all this bandwidth when the vast majority of it simply gets ignored by the user base

Sure, a message board here and there with only two or three topics period may not use up a lot of bandwidth. Ones that have zero postings use up even less. But it all adds up in a hurry when you're dealing with five and even six figures-count of message boards that simply sit there completely empty and having to rent out the server space to keep those ghost boards existing. And then you take into account the thousands if not tens of thousands of ghost boards that do have pages and pages of topics back when those shows were airing, but have since died with the most recent posting dating back to when the only thing "ISIS" stood for was a girls' name.

That in no way makes good business sense, and so IMDb is forced to make the only decision here that is good business sense: trash the whole thing.

Which is why I think the whole system will simply go away instead of being archived: it's too much bandwidth, and therefore too much money being flushed down the toilet for no real purpose. Yeah, it might be useful to archive the boards for someone's edification, but like it or not the historical and archival significance of IMDb is practical nil - especially considering the troll and alt-right haven it's become lately. That's a cultural history that we're better off not preserving anyway.

So, that's the story of why IMDb is going away. Given what's been happening lately, with individual boards dying (again, taking the whole system with them ultimately) and the incessant trolling, I think I speak for a good part of the population when I say, Good Riddance.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Nickelodeon and Disney Channel 2016 Winners and Losers

Yup, it's that time again! If you thought these networks took a beating in 2015, well, 2016 was worse. Gee, I wonder if there's going to be more overall losers than winners this year?

Between the Networks: The Winner of Nickelodeon vs. Disney Channel in 2016: Again, absolutely no one but Nickelodeon still did significantly better than Disney Channel so there you go

Last year I said 2015 was a low point for both networks, but this year proves there's still a lot of low to go down to especially for Disney Channel. I covered in more detail the ratings freefall in my last post but Nickelodeon managed to ride it quite better than Disney Channel, even if their overall ratings are still (slightly) worse compared to the peak overall ratings of 2015 (if that makes sense). 

Best Live-Action TV Show on Both Networks: 100 Things to Do Before High School

It aired exactly one episode in 2016 before getting the axe but hey, it still counts.

Runners Up: Liv and Maddie, , Stuck in the Middle, Best Friends Whenever, Legendary Dudas, The Thundermans, The Other Kingdom

Being a Liv and Maddie fanboy I don't think I need to explain this one. Best Friends Whenever may not have the cachet as Girl Meets World but it proved to be on the balance entertaining with some well-written jokes and managed to have a large fanbase despite being two-and-through. Stuck in the Middle is proving itself to be at least part-charming in episodes despite perhaps the limited production values and dare I say it, in those parts more charming than Girl Meets World. Legendary Dudas turned out to be quite a surprise, a successful execution of the Modern Family formula in middle school format, but alas the six episodes we saw in the summer will be it forever. And yes, I know I'm reaching with The Other Kingdom, but Thundermans aside can you really name a live-action show better on Nickelodeon right now?

No. You can't.

Make it Pop! could've been, but they aired only one episode during the entire calendar year and it absolutely sucked donkey balls.

This pretty much means the same stories for best shows on the individual networks: 100 Things to do Before High School as Best Show on Nickelodeon with Legendary Dudas, Thundermans and The Other Kingdom as Runners-Up with Liv and Maddie the best Disney Channel show with Best Friends Whenever and Stuck in the Middle as Runners-Up

Best Live-Action Show, Disney XD: Kirby Buckets

Yes I'm being completely serious about this one. The first season was very hit-or-miss; but the show found its stride in Season #2 and didn't necessarily find its narrative voice, but rather found itself better as a conduit simply for jokes, gag-plotlines and to let the actors do their thing. And it did so with aplomb, perhaps not unlike a classic Nickelodeon live-action/single-camera show that you might find on The Splat.

Runners Up: Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything, Mech-X4

As with Kirby Buckets, Gamer's Guide succeeds not through its narrative voice (indeed the actual narrative quality of the show outright sucks) but in just being laugh-out-loud funny, even if usually in the most base, juvenile manner allowable on the network. But hey, style points only gets you so far when there's not much to compete against in the first place.

Best New Live-Action Show, Between the Networks: Stuck in the Middle

This is pretty much going to be an award it wins by default because absolutely nearly every premiere was atrocious. Seriously. I'm starting to somewhat warm up to Bizaardvark which at least manages to net it Runner-Up for the network.

Runner-Up: Legendary Dudas, The Other Kingdom

Yes, really. As I mentioned despite its very short run it pulled off the Modern Family-in-Middle School formula very well, and what especially helps especially in The Other Kingdom's case is that School of Rock is utter, steaming garbage.

And needless to say those shows also win those respective positions for Best New Live-Action Show on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Runner-Up for Disney Channel gets to be Bizaardvark as I mentioned. As for Runner-Up for Nickelodeon: None. Nada, zilch. I refuse to recognize a runner-up. School of Rock is a gigantic stinking pile of utter shit and the fandom that has watched this show enough to get it three seasons should have their TV watching privileges permanently revoked, and the writers of this show should never be permitted to hold a pen pencil or be allowed to clack on a keyboard ever, ever again.

Worst Show Between the Networks: School of Rock

I really do mean it when I say I'm flabbergasted as to how this show can be popular enough to warrant three seasons. I've literally seen one - one good episode, and the rest of the episodes I've seen make me actively regret ever having seen them. It isn't just the worst new show I've seen from either network for the '16 calendar year, it's the worst show I've seen from either network in years. Bunk'd is better than this by a country mile. It has juvenile writing that talks down to 8 year olds, equally juvenile dumbed-down jokes and is simply an assault to the intelligence of anyone regardless of actual intellect. 

Runner-Up: Game Shakers

Whatever I said last year applies here. It's also garbage, School of Rock just happens to be even worse garbage.

Needless to say these shows also get the awards for Worst ive-Action Shows of Nickelodoen & Runner-Up and School of Rock gets Worst New Live-Action Show of Nickelodeon (with, due to having exhausted all the live-action premieres has no runner-up).

Worst Live-Action Show, Disney Channel: Bunk'd

Yes it's improved a bit, but it's still easily the worst show on the network. Bizaardvark manages to be better enough such that Bunk'd gets to be alone, all by itself with no runner-up.

Best New Live-Action Show, Disney XD: Mech-X4

An award it wins by absolute default and even then only barely because I don't think it's actually premiered yet on XD, instead being almost exclusively on mainline Disney Channel despite being an "XD Original."

Worst Live-Action Show, Disney XD: Lab Rats: Elite Force

There was a reason why this show suffers the ignominy of being one-and-done. Although it had belly laugh-worthy jokes, the overarching plot and premise were downright incomprehensible at times. Although ostensibly a simple team-up between Lab Rats and Mighty Med, it took some bizarre directions to get there - bizarre directing decisions, bizarre plot direction and for the lion's share of the episode not making use of its basic premise one bit. It could've been more, but a simple lack of narrative skill killed all that potential.

Best Original Movie: The Swap

Not that Adventures in Babysitting was bad, but The Swap felt more like having those elements a classic DCOM has become known for since the HSM era. It was based on strong source material to begin with and didn't stray too far from it - and that's the basic formula to winning Best Original Movie.

Runner-Up: Adventures in Babysitting

Although a huge ratings disappointment (in fact outright disaster) AiB was still a good Original Movie and worthy choice for the 100th DCOM spot, and in many ways managed to improve upon the original.

Since those are the two DCOMs that premiered in '16, there is no award for Worst DCOM

Best Original Nickelodeon Movie: Albert

Shockingly closer to a Pixar classic than I'd anticipated, Albert actually scored very well in character and writing, and is probably the best Nickelodeon Christmas movie since Drake & Josh.

Runner-Up: Rufus

Pretty much by default, yup.

Worst Original Nickelodeon Movie: Legends of the Hidden Temple

Oooooh, How DARE you pick on Legends of the Hidden Temple! Well, too bad, my blog. Besides, it wasn't that bad; but having way too many predictable moments and moments that served strictly as filler, it's still the worst Nickelodeon Original Movie of the year, especially when Albert proved that Nickelodeon can still knock it out of the park, perhaps especially when unburdened by the physical and budgetary restrictions of a live-action movie.

That said, I don't feel like there are any original movies from either network bad enough to be called Worst Original Movie Overall, so officially filling in that spot will be none.

Best Live-Action Single Episode Overall: Girl Meets She Don't Like Me (Girl Meets World)

Hey, I have to throw some bone to Girl Meets World (especially when you read what I have to say about the show a little later) and She Don't Like Me, bad grammar aside, is legitimately my most favorite episode of the whole series so far (probably the whole series period) and my favorite episode of of the '16 calendar year. It was the perfect GMW episode, and if the rest of the series could even be two-thirds this good I think we'd be hearing more talk of a Season 4, and at least it'd make me feel a little better about some of the ill-will with the Girl Meets World fandom (again, wait a little bit for me to explain that one). It had everything: good writing, good character, a good lesson where Riley and Maya don't necessarily automatically win by default (a common problem with this show) but still reach a satisfying conclusion and it just made me feel actually at home with these characters and show for perhaps the only true time in the series' entire history.

Best Live-Action Single Episode Disney Channel, Runner-Up: Viva-La-Rooney (Liv and Maddie)

Choosing a third season episode as opposed to the more controversial fourth season, Viva-La-Rooney had everything you expect from a great Liv and Maddie episode, including a rather well-written (for once) love triangle exploration between Josh and Maddie.

Best Live-Action Single Episode, Nickelodeon: Thundermans Secret Revealed

Pretty much by default, although I suppose you can really pick nearly any Thundermans episode.


Best Live-Action Single Episode, Nickelodeon, Runner-Up: I dunno, choose another episode of The Thunderman for all I care.

Worst Live-Action Single Episode, Overall: Literally, choose ANY episode of School of Rock (aside from the one with Daya in it which is the only decent episode of the show so far) But if I was forced to choose a single episode it would be A Band With No Name which perfectly encapsulates just how shitty this show is, including an inherent smug sense of self-entitlement only Girl Meets World can rival. 

I would buy a copy of the script just so that I could symbolically burn it and post it on YouTube, Vine or Snapchat.

Worst Live-Action Single Episode, Nickelodeon, Runner-Up: Danger and Thunder For pretty much the same reasons as School of Rock: awful treatment of Kira Kosarin, awful writing, awful and nonsensical plotting, and jokes that were funny only in the writer's head.

Worst Live-Action Single Episode, Disney Channel: Girl Meets High School (Girl Meets World) The more I think about it, the more I think I was way too generous with giving this episode a C-grade; indeed, I think it was more deserving a D- if not an outright F. It perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with Girl Meets World - again, an inherent and undeserved smug sense of self-entitlement and superiority (perfectly realized on-screen in having Riley and Maya heartlessly physically crush Fake-Riley and Fake-Maya) and a feel-good lesson that doesn't go anywhere except at the very end where it takes a cheesy 180-degree turn from all logical reason and deep into stupid territory, with the obvious expectation from the show and its writers that we're supposed to have reached a new level of Nirvana at this unbeholden revelation. 

To use a phrase from the decade where 'Meets World should've been left for dead, gag me with a fucking spoon.

Worst Live-Action Single Episode, Disney Channel, Runner-Up: ...I'm having a lot of honest difficulty in coming up with one, and not because there's been such high quality on Disney Channel either. Rather, it's because so few shows are just worth the time watching - certainly not Bunk'd, Bizaardvark and even Girl Meets World has just been such a fucking chore to watch most of the time, and if a show really becomes a chore to watch then it simply isn't worth the time watching, no matter the fanbase (which is why Mike's been taking up most of the reviews, Thanks Mike!) There was a time where I'd obligate myself to watch every single show on Disney Channel because it was pretty reliable in giving you an episode you could at least enjoy. Clearly 2016 wasn't it.

Best Finale, Disney Channel: Gravity Falls by default pretty much Gravity Falls promised an epic series, and its finale at least certainly lived up to that. Not missing a beat, it shows why this series gained so much critical praise and attention during its run. See that's how you do a series that helps build the network instead of just letting people make potshots at it. 

2016 also saw an unusual amount of series finales, the vast majority of them unplanned (in fact only Austin & Ally's was). Lab Rats: Elite Force on XD and Best Friends Whenever being the ones that most come to mind. I feel it'd be kind of unfair to start naming a runner-up or worst finale in this case; Austin & Ally didn't necessarily have a bad finale and neither did Best Friends Whenever (in fact I'd say it's a pretty even dead heat between them). Yeah, sure, the LR: EF "finale" was just a lousy episode overall but again it feels like a cheap shot giving worst finale to a show that ended on a cliffhanger, and did so unintentionally. Maybe I'll give it some consideration with Mike or with you guys in the comments.

Best Finale, Nickelodeon: Bella and the Bulldogs, again pretty much by default Again, another unintentional finale, but one that manage to provide a nice sense of closure (unlike the 100 Things finale, which was pretty much just a regular episode as good as it was).

Best Finale, Nickelodeon, Runner-Up: 100 Things to do Before High School, again pretty much by default Though I'm tempted to name Power Rangers: Super Dino Charge. Yup.

Biggest Fall on Face, Disney Channel: Girl Meets World You can read my essay here to see why.

Biggest Fall on Face, Nickelodeon: I suppose a more honest answer would be Legends of the Hidden Temple but I really want to say School of Rock, so there.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lifetime Original Movie Review: Zoe Gone


What is it? Single-camera made-for-Lifetime original movie (basically a DCOM for grown-ups, except not nearly as good)
Where did it air? Hmmm...I wonder if there might be, I don't know, a network dedicated to showing movies made by Lifetime. Maybe it'd be called the Movie Network for Lifetime or something?
Who stars in it? Sammi Hanratty who is...well, at this point kind of a glorified Literally Who? that a lot of people fondly remember from her various guest or recurring roles, mainly because she looks like this:


And beyond that pretty much a bunch of Literally Whos?
Why are we reviewing this? Other than Sammi's KidCom connection (she had a recurring role in the final season of Suite Life of Zack and Cody and she's the American Girls Clarissa - no, really), beats the hell out of me.

Oh Good, Dear, Sweet Merciful Lord why did I even record this one?

Movie Grade: F. Honestly it's so bad it justifies the worst score we give on this blog - an F Minus Minus - but frankly I don't want to give this turd that much attention, at least not officially.
(Awww hell with it, it really was that bad. I am going to give it an official grade of F Minus Minus)
Movie MVP: I could go down the "Unknown acts like a misogynist pig" road and just pick Sammi by default for being the prettiest but...actually maintaining some integrity for this one this time...I very, very honestly...honestly to Good Sweet Lord up there...I don't even know how to answer this one.

Which means - for the first time in the admittedly short history of this blog - we are not awarding an Episode/Movie MVP at all here. Officially, it's a blank space, and no TayTay isn't going to be writing your name here either (despite this blog's propensity to do just exactly that, minus the ridiculously attractive mega-rich perfect blonde superstar with her extremely mixed messages on friendship and inclusion, unfortunately).
Movie LVP: So we'll just do this one instead! The award for biggest loser out of this whole shitfest is a tie going to main star Sammi Hanratty and to Andrea Bowen, who plays the main "villianess" who of course is a redhead. And no, I'm not co-awarding it to Andrea just because she portrays an evil redhead here - but I am awarding it to both because by this point they really, really should know better. I've seen movies with Andrea in it that are actually pretty decent - really, really good in fact at least in large parts, so, yeah, she should know better. And after having a number of decent roles with such a wide range from guest spots on Mad Men to being the freakin' American Girl Clarissa, it seems like most of Sammi's career lately is languishing on LMN, including the movie Seeds of Yesterday which is literally "Sammi Hanratty's first incest-themed pornographic movie, except rated to the absolute limit they'd allow on basic cable so you don't even get the full benefit of it." And when I say literally, I mean it - it's literally a pornographic movie, just where they (for the most part) keep their clothes on and with all the sex basic cable television can get away with. 

Given how much Sammi likes to profess her Christianity on social media (including live Snapchats from church events) it does beg the question just how much of her own dignity is she willing to sell here?

Extra Thoughts

 - I've actually seen some Lifetime/LMN comedy movies and...largely it's hit-or-miss. The infamous Lifetime dramas though are...just...freakin' garbage all across the board. When their friggin' tagline is leave the crazy to us you know you're in for a joyride. The kind of joyride where someone kidnaps you and duck tapes you to the seat, almost as if you're in one of the damn movies.

 - I know the reviews lately have been all across the board and rather concentrated (this is the second review today) so, uh, how about some Drake & Josh next time?

You watched a Lifetime movie and actually survived to review it? I think you would have had a more satisfying experience chewing shards of glass.

I had to look up Sammi Hanratty because I didn't recognize her at all and I didn't remember her being on any SLOZAC episodes. Then I saw her when she was a kid, and then her credits.......it all makes sense now. She grew up pretty nicely. She's like a less memorable Bailee Madison.

I think it's time we spread some positivity and review Drake & Josh for the culture. Interesting fact, Sammi and Bailee have both been on the show. 

Original Movie Review: Emma's Chance

Instead of a typical quote pulled from the movie, I'm going to provide this link instead:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Cliche

What is it? Direct-to-DVD/Streaming "Family" movie
Where did it air? Well given what I just said.... And given that the production studio and crew behind this movie are both a bit too gospel-preachy and too obscure for most networks to want to pick it up, your best bet is to either wait for it to be inevitably picked up by GTV in all that network's 480p glory, or just rent the damn movie already (or do what I did and pick it up for free from your local library because I sure as hell ain't paying actual cash to watch this).

Who stars in it? By far the biggest names in it are going to be Ryan McCartan - yes, the very same, along with former Haunted Hathaways star Amber Montana Frank and AwesomenessTV super starlet (or at least what passes for it) Lia Marie Johnson. Oh and Missi Pyle is in it too. Joey Lawrence gets an "and" credit though I'm struggling to remember who Joey Lawrence even is (was he one of the guys from Friends?)
Why are we reviewing it? Well the family theme and the star roster alone justifies it being on this blog, but mostly I just wanted to complain and bitch about how much of a cliche-ridden waste of time this whole movie was.

And I'm really not kidding about it. It's quite literally wall-to-wall cliches from credit roll to credit roll, from the paint-by-numbers plot of the main character (played by Greer Grammer who apparently had a role in Awkward, a series I'll admit I've never seen) and how she got in trouble sneaking into a horse farm and now has to serve a "punishment that fits the crime" taking care of the horses on said farm and of course falls in love with them, to the "wrong kind of best friend" who steers Emma into trouble in the first place (and of course the Trojan Mean Girl has to be a redhead, played by Shanna Strong who no less is the exact same actress who's the redhead in the Bella episode mentioned in the linked review), to the potential New Mean Girl/Rival at the horse farm who nonetheless Emma gets to warm up to (who incidentally is named Lexi, a name reserved strictly for stuck-up Alpha Bitches - played by Christina Robinson BTW, whose biggest role so far is on Dexter apparently. And no, not the Laboratory Dexter either, the stabby, once narrated commercials for Dodge with invisible monkies-one) to the out-from-nowhere evil rich bad guy who wants to - not even buy the whole horse farm but just a specific horse so that...just so that he can abuse the animal? Um, hell, ever heard of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? Yeah maybe instead of fretting about Booty McBlackHat maybe you should just call those guys on him.

This is probably the most cliche-riddled movie I've seen in a long time (and given what we review on this blog, that says a lot) and the most cliche-riddled movie I've seen of the year so far, for sure. So cliche and predictable, in fact, that you feel like you've already seen this movie before within the first eight minutes. There are literally no surprises, not even the failed jump scare when one of Emma's friends surprises her when they first trespass onto the horse farm. The biggest issue with this movie simply lies at its very narrative core and at the feet of the studio and creative crew responsible for it - they're so wrapped up in telling a specific message and in particular a specific moral that...well, it's not so much an issue that they've forgotten to actually tell a narrative and a story as so much as it's painfully obvious they just don't feel any real obligation to. This isn't a movie that families watch together as so much as parents force-feed their pre-tween children even if it means having to do so to themselves, not so much for its face-value entertainment qualities as so much as that it's strictly an alternative to more "hardcore" and "wrongly influential" entertainment options out there - including Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. In other words, you don't watch this movie to be entertained, you watch it in the hopes that it can somehow turn your children into upstanding moral characters in place of, you know, actual parenting.

I'm all for entertainment that feels good and makes you warm and fuzzy inside, especially if a lot of the more mainstream entertain options out there...well, even if they're not necessarily overly violent to the point of distasteful as so much as you're just not in the mood for that type of thing (like, say, you're recovering from cancer and your alcoholic redheaded rape-survivor ex-fiancee just broke up with you). But having a movie or plot that's all feel-good with a whole bunch of big nothing to go along with it and having everything be a cliche down to the very characters and nothing but ends up being self-defeating. That's not entertainment, that's just a bore-fest. Nobody likes a bore-fest.

I mean, it's not like we've had any recent examples of say TV shows on Disney Channel for example that have tried to go for a moralistic message or life lesson at the expense of everything else and risking being a cliche-riddled slogfest as a result. Especially not ones that are banking on overwhelming nostalgia factor to help buoy any shortcomings, and certainly that wouldn't attract a poisonous fanbase that would throw rotten tomatoes not only at said show but all the other shows on the network brought to their attention as well along with more than a few squarely aimed at the fandoms of those other shows.

Nope, not familiar with any such specific examples like that at all. 

Movie Grade: A flat D. This is exactly the type of movie this grade exists for. Other than for the eye candy which I'll get to right after this (and really, even I have to admit if you're watching the movie just for that you really are watching it for all the wrong reasons) there's absolutely is nothing, nada, zilch reason whatsoever to watch this movie for - it's a time-waster, nothing more.
Movie MVP: I know that my tendency for going off on the occasional feminist, SJW-slant rant in reviews and then assigning Episode/Movie MVP to whatever actresses I just happen to find the most attractive really tends to undermine things, and this year I resolve to try to do less of that.

But, whatever, this review isn't going to be the place for that at all, sorry.

Movie MVP gets to be a five-way tie between Shanna Strong, Christina Robinson, Greer Grammar, Amber Montana Frank and Lia Marie Johnson, all for being ridiculously attractive in true Young Hollywood fashion (especially, umm...when they're wearing those riding pants. Even I have to admit, someone with a feminist tint should probably redesign those things to be, well, less objectifying). Oh, and there's also Dove Cameron's ex-fiancee if you want eye candy for female viewers, I guess. Apparently this Joey Lawrence is a thing too? I mean, to his credit he really does look like the cancer-free frickin' Marlboro Man. As for actual acting skill that award goes to absolutely no one because I'm assuming the director was going for that "community theater" vibe.

Extra Thoughts

  - Oddly enough Christina Robinson and Shanna Strong are a redhead and blonde respectively in real-life even though their hair colors are swapped for this movie. Yeah, I'm the type of person who will note that kind of thing, in case you haven't learned by now.

 - I was a bit nervous about naming some of the MVPs as MVPs based solely on how attractive they are given that I don't want to promote underaged girls as eye candy - you know, given all the "I was a teacher" and "my ex-finacee got raped as a kid" stuff I keep carrying on about (the whole eye candy thing period is pushing it enough as it is). I know Amber and Lia are in their early 20s and Christina is the youngest at 19 going on 20 (I can't find Shanna's age but given her lengthy filmography and the ages of the other girls I feel it's a safe bet). Greer's potential age made me the most nervous of all given how she seems to be quite visibly younger than her peer female costars so I went and looked it up just to be sure and Sweet Baby Gee-Buzz she's damn near close to my own age.

 - Also to her credit she really does look like Live-Action Elsa.

 - The movie makes a big point (for about two seconds) about Emma trying to find a female farrior (that's the person who makes and puts on horse shoes to horses). It seems a bit odd that the movie has to have her specifically looking for a female farrior and give that special attention - why not just have her look for a farrior period and then just show the female farrior do her thing nailing shoes to horses (or file them down, as the case was)?

 - One of these days maybe I'll write a more comprehensive essay on the whole feel good overdose genre since much of the bad rep and image both Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stem from exactly this kind of thing.

 - Maybe one of these days I'll write an essay on redheads too. Maybe soon since Hug a Ginger Day is coming up pretty quick.

 - Or not since it was last month, oops.

Unknown's Opinion on Why Girl Meets World is Ultimately a Failure

You can see Mike's take on the ending of Girl Meets World here (or, uh, right immediately below the blog entry). Whereas Mike mainly talked about the narrative failures of GMW (and I'll certainly get into that too) I'll also cover some opinions on some very critical failures outside of just the writing of the show itself, some of which were squarely in the hands of Jacobs and crew, some of which lie squarely at the fault of Disney Channel, and some of which are the responsibility of people and forces neither of those entities have any control over.

I don't think there's ever been a show with so much built-in anticipation and hype for Disney Channel as Girl Meets World. You have to remember, 1.) Disney Channel had rather modest beginnings all the way through years after making the move from a premium channel to basic cable, and that includes many of the most classically-remembered shows like Lizzie McGuire, Eve Stevens, Phil of the Future and even That's So Raven; and 2.) up until this point all of Disney Channel's greatest hits started with modest expectations, or at least no greater than those of the other shows around it. Nobody knew for sure that Good Luck Charlie or Shake it Up would be the mega-hits they ended up being, and Wizards of Waverly Place actually did pretty dismally out of the gate (there was serious talk among the pundits that it'd be a two-season wonder, at least I've been told). And when Disney Channel entered the automatic hit factory era, well, then every series was expected to be a hit (up through at least Liv and Maddie). See, no series was really given extra special attention over another; every series was pretty much vying to be a potential tentpole, at least out of the gate. Even a show like Dog With a Blog was expected to go the three-season distance automatically (as it eventually did) and it was entirely conceivable for even a show like that to go four if the cards played out correctly. The hype that Lizzie McGuire, That's So Raven, WoWP and even Suite Life on Deck and Jessie with such a potential huge built-in carryover fanbase was largely after-the-fact, in hindsight, when these shows having to demonstrate they can actually pull in mega-ratings first before deserving any real tentpole status. 

Girl Meets World was really the first show on the network to be built up as an automatic tentpole years before the show even entered production. In fact before the roles of Riley and Maya had even been cast and before Rowan and Sabrina even answered the casting call in the first place (I remember my first serious discussion with other Net Denizens about GMW with speculation that Bailee Madison was actually going to be Riley and that being considered a pretty solid guess given both her veteran experience already on the network and elsewhere, such as on Once Upon a Time and quite a few movies). You might get some passing mention, often sarcastically, of a new Disney Channel show premiere on say AV Club, but with GMW you had sites like IG-Freakin'-N and Entertainment Tonight and as Mike mentioned friggin' Complex freely and gleefully boarding the Disney Channel hype wagon. Depending on how you look at it, it was either The Show That Mustn't Fail, or The Show That Can't Fail No Matter How Hard it Tried. I mean, just how the hell could it even fail? It had Ben Savage! It had Danielle Fishel! RIder Strong and Daniel Williams were coming back! It was literally, very literally, the second coming of Boy Meets World! And the World, Boy or Girl, would rejoice.

Yeah, it didn't exactly happen like that. Here's one random jackass' opinion as to why.

The Hype Machine created a suicidal prophecy

By that I mean, well, you know how hype machines work. They create a level of hype so lofty meeting it is simply impossible. The more seemingly likely a show could actually survive it (c'mon, the Matthews are back in town!), the even loftier the hype becomes, ensuring that no show can meet it (well, any show that isn't Game of Thrones *ducks*). 

When you have "outsider" sites like IGN, Entertainment Weekly, freakin' Complex, what have you, it's helping to feed that nostalgia expectations monster. The comparisons to Boy Meets World happen before a single second of footage for the new show is recorded - in fact at least months before the fact, even. Everybody already has their own idea of what the show's going to be like, perhaps so much they feel like they've already memorized every single episode in syndication, and especially when the level of hype tends to homogenize those expectations, it feels like the actual product is watching a different show entirely - and a disappointing one at that. 

The "outsider" Hype created the wrong expectations (or at least didn't clue in on realistic ones)

Again, a lot if not most of this hype was coming in from the outside - IGN, EW, Complex, fans of Boy Meets World that never, ever would've touched Disney Channel otherwise, etc. Now normally this would be all welcome, and no doubt Disney Channel was as hyper as Season 1 Farkle being promised a double-date with Riley and Maya with all the extra attention - but Disney Channel is also a unique network with tons and tons of weird, very strange quirks that exist literally no where else on the television landscape, and absolutely no where in all of that third party hype was anybody who wasn't a veteran viewer of the network clued in to what those quirks were. 

For example, the whole schedule thing that people cannot. Freakin'. Shut. Up. About. On the IMDb GMW boards. Up to the second season premiere of GMW the premiere schedule was absolutely modus operandi for every show on the network - you'd typically get an order of 20-26 episodes per season (sometimes up to 30 episodes in the second season especially with shows with only a 20 episode first season order) which was typically enough to ensure a premiere for exactly half the year (26 episodes for 26 weeks = exactly half of 52 weeks out of the year total). Now this is pretty standard for broadcast and at least some basic cable networks anyway, but unlike these other networks (which would typically air the bulk of those 26 episodes in a single chunk out of the year, leaving about two-three months or so of the year completely barren of new episodes) Disney Channel rolled out a new episode every other week. This is actually sheer brilliance on the part of the network because it'd ensure there was no month out of the year left barren of new episodes at all, and kept an extremely predictable, easy-to-remember schedule (new episode of Jessie this week; new episode of Jessie the week after next, roughly). It also meant that the "gap" week was filled with brand new premieres of other shows (new episode of Jessie this week; new episode of A.N.T. Farm next week; new episode of Jessie the week after). In this way the gap week of one show would be the premiere week of another, and vice versa, making true gap weeks for the network itself a relative rarity compared to more conventional scheduling. This type of scheduling actually had tons and tons of advantages; it meant that rerun weeks were kept to an extreme minimum (you had literally the rest of the network's schedule for that, particularly Saturday and Sunday mornings) and you effectively doubled the space on the network for new programming (particularly critical for a network that only had two premiere nights to speak of, Friday night and Sunday night - with Saturday introduced as a half-assed premiere night from '13 through '14), all the while making sure attention spans weren't cut short by rerun fatigue. You also made your audience more "captive" for other shows to try to make the ratings on the network more uniform, hopefully for the better (this is a big reason why every show on Disney Channel was given equal promotion up until GMW). 

However, this kind of thing really only works if there's at least two shows the audience really cares about and those two shows fall on each other's gap week, ensuring the audience has reason to come back every week. Well, when the audience starts caring only about one specific, exact show and one show only, then you start running into serious issues. This wasn't an issue when you had enough of a crossover audience between say Jessie and A.N.T. Farm to keep the little kiddies entertaned (well, up to middle-ish teens at its peak and, um, people who are way, way too old to really be watching like certain very bored bloggists who keep insisting on using red text in 12 pt Arial font and referring to themselves as "bloggists" or as one certain infamous IMDb GMW board denizen keeps putting it [and misspelling], "man-children"). But this was a problem when you have a way skewed-older demo who's overwhelmingly coming over for one specific show for the nostalgia factor and they're coming in for the very first time.

The end result is, despite theoretically this type of schedule structure being easy to remember, a whole bunch of people logging onto IMDb and complaining where's my show?

Yeah, you know, I understand legitimate criticism of both the show and the network (like Christian and Sean and Mike and Spongey and other bloggers) but I mean, c'mom man. Some of the stuff being complained about here is so simple it does make me want to side with people with such colorful names as "Manna-Fest" and especially, um, "crotchrocket." Not that Disney Channel is completely in the clear on the scheduling front either, with nonsense like that absurd week-long premiere of Season 2. 

But there are tons and tons of other quirks that the outsiders-cum-newbies (and yes "cum" is being properly used in this context, get your mind out of the gutter) simply were never able to get used to, up to and including even the early premieres on Watch Disney Channel that even Rowan herself complained about (that's another thing I'm with on this "crotchrocket" person but more on that later). Perhaps the biggest and most bizarre thing is the neverending chorus-like insistence that the series need to be "grown-up" and "DeGrassi-Lite" despite the fact that this is on a blatant children's network and that don't they even remember Boy Meets Word at all? And this goes back to the cries of the audience wanting this to be on ABC Family/Freeform despite the fact that that network's multi-cam sitcoms are if anything cheesier than even on Disney Channel (have they seen Young and Hungry? Baby Daddy? Have they even heard of those shows?)

The Hype Machine brought the wrong kind of attention (including a highly poisonous fanbase)

Here's another thing I'm onboard along with "Manna-Fest" and "crotchrocket" at that hellhole known as IMDb.

Bringing in a fanbase that's clueless to the quirks of a particular network is one thing - yeah it can get kind of annoying if they don't manage to pick up on them in the span of three frickin' years, and some if not many of the actions on the part of the network itself certainly didn't help - but it's another thing when that fanbase starts ruining the fun of people trying to watch the show, watch other shows and overall just act like a bunch of poisonous dicks who need to be deported to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 

I'm talking about the people who kept complaining that GMW needed to move to Freeform because Disney Channel is "too kiddie" and strangling Jacobs' creativity; the people who would shit on the other shows (like immediately writing off Best Friends Whenever as a ripoff just because the hair colors of the two main leads match the hair colors of the two main GMW leads) and people who would still complain about how GMW is too much like a typical Disney Channel show and then turn around two seconds later and talk about how it's at least so much better than all the other crap on Disney Channel.

Now, I know what you're thinking - it sounds like I'm taking a massive Republican tax cut-sized dump on Christian and Sean and GMW Reviewed in general since they did a lot of this too. Hell even Mike here has been guilty of some of the above from time to time. But I'm not - but I can't really explain why not without explaining how there are two if not three sides to this whole "poisonous fanbase" problem.

The first side consists of all the people who came strictly to watch Girl Meets World and only to watch GMW, overwhelmingly for the nostalgia factor to such a degree where it's fair to say it's strictly for that aspect (as with Christian and Sean as they themselves discovered when they tried to watch the other shows). These people always had the intention of leaving as soon as GMW was over and for the most part they have. Now, it's important to understand that a network's top priority is to make sure it's audience is well-served and to cater to that audience/fanbase in order to make sure they keep coming back so that they can throw advertising dollars at that audience - and especially don't poison the well so badly that they leave a bad taste in that audience's mouths and God Forbid to the frickin' degree where that taste is so bad the audience starts spreading that poison themselves, intentional or not. Well Disney Channel really, really dropped the ball here because that worst case scenario is exactly what happened. I don't know if Disney Channel was really that dangerously unsavvy about the type of older viewer most excited about GMW or if they were just in denial or if they just figure everything would work itself out without any interference or guidance - maybe they'd figure most of the audience that grew up on Boy Meets World were now married and with children and therefore had at least a passing familiarity with most of the shows already on the network as it was if not already watching them with their children anyway, despite the fact that 1.) birth trends in the U.S. along with the rest of the industrialized world have been going down with the exception of immigrants and recent-immigrant legacy families which means that not only a sizable chunk at least of the old Boy Meets World nostalgia fanbase would be completely childless, and most of the actual tween/teen demo of GMW would be from families with relatively few older members who either bothered to watch Boy Meets World in the first place or even have ever heard of it prior to GMW (like, maybe, the parents grew up in households that didn't even have a TV until they were able to go to college and obtain job security themselves) and 2.) most families treat Disney Channel as a babysitter stand-in network - plop the kiddies in front of the TV to distract them long enough so you can do whatever whether it'd be watching Game of Thrones, cooking a meal or going out. In other words, these parents would only have a very passing familiarity of the other shows at best (usually a flitting few seconds) and if impressions on IMDb are any indication those impressions are overwhelmingly bad to the point where most people look at these shows as an avalanche of obnoxious unbridled celebrations of consumerism, brattiness and pop star celeb entitlement (and looking at a lot of these shows it's not hard to see where that impression comes from).

My point is Disney Channel did nothing to keep the adult single or childless couple demo satisfied (other than freaks like me who were watching before GMW even premiered) beyond the fact that there's a show with the words "Meets World" in the title and Rider Strong and Daniel Williams occasionally make guest appearances in it. There's two schools of thought you can go into with this - 1.) well who cares, Disney Channel only cares about marketing to kids anyway so one million single adult viewers might as well be zero adult viewers, or 2.) hey, maybe the adult viewership would help raise our street cred and give our programming more credibility.

I'm going to go ahead and invite you, the reader, to take a wild guess which of the two should've been the correct response, and which was the actual response Disney Channel elected to settle with.

And it's not like Disney Channel hasn't flirted with an older demo before - they've made efforts when their major-draw stars grew older and their fanbase either grew with them or even started to actively draw in older viewers. They did this with That's So Raven, The Suite Life on Deck, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place and Shake it Up. Hell Good Luck Charlie and Jessie were with the very idea that an older and even adult peripheral demo might work out for the network, especially with Jessie where they took a considerable gamble banking on a legally adult star - and hey that show lasted to 100 episodes! Nickelodeon took this same approach too and it helped get iCarly and Victorious (and to a lesser extent Drake & Josh and Zoey101) to mega-star ratings. So it's not like Disney Channel or Nickelodeon have exactly zero experience or expectation that older viewers might be attracted, and that these older viewers might be particularly fickle.

Ideally, GMW should've encouraged the other shows currently in production to step up their game, and to encourage shows with greater crossover appeal for future production like GMW, Good Luck Charlie and Jessie. Instead Jessie went completely in the other direction and GMW itself went nowhere - but more on that later, we're just talking fanbases now.

In the end, this particular "side" of the fanbase had little reason to watch other shows or help spread good word-of-mouth for the rest of the network - and after enough time, not a lot of good word-of-mouth was being spread about GMW itself. The end result is what you have up at GMWReviewed with their reviews of the other shows getting B's at the very best and noted that they're inferior to GMW even though they're all practically the same show (another thing I have to agree with some of the trolls on IMDb) and a lot of murmurs about how much is Disney Channel holding back Jacobs and his crew. That's the exact opposite of what you want to happen as a network.

Now this side of the fanbase isn't actively trying to be poisonous although the bad taste left in their mouths by some of the action/inaction by Disney Channel may have spread itself regardless - but then you do have an actively poisonous element of the fanbase in play here. They'd be the "Manna-Fests" and "crotchrockets" of IMDb - and the GMW fans they troll like "dandanger" and "JPBMILLIONS" and other, ummm...colorful characters.

These are the "fans" who actively spread poison by incessantly making new topics and talking about how it would be better if it were on Freeform, how it would be better on Netflix, how the other shows suck, how Disney Channel is holding them back etc. The main difference is that they make it almost their mission to spread this, be obnoxious about it and in unfortunately many cases chase down the fandoms of other shows specifically to shit on them. Needless to say this is the exact opposite of what you want to happen as a network.

Or, to pull from what I wrote in the Meets Sweet 16 review:

Now that I'm looking back at what I've inserted above, even I'm taken back a bit by just how mercilessly snarky I've been on the show. My sentiments about how I've been frustrated by this show have now been spread over several posts (including this one) and will continue to be at least through the end of the month, I figure. And I'm seeing a whole bunch of it on the IMDb board. It seems that everyone's just had it with their frustration now that it's a known, advertised fact that the series will be coming to an end when the reign of God-Emperor Trump begins (and I don't care what cloudcuokoolander knuckleheads say, it's the end of the series, period. Netflix has zero incentive to pick it up now that Fuller House is firmly established and there just isn't any home for it other than Disney, which is why it ended up there in the first place). I know there are guys with really lively names like, uh...."Crotch Rocket" and "some Dan guy" and some other dudes who are really laying it on (this, uhh..,"Crotch Rocket" guy even came out with a rather lengthy, bloviated list of "deadly sins") and you know what...I agree with them. The best way I can put is if...ok, imagine if Disney Channel were a house, and everybody who watched Disney Channel before Girl Meets World were the regular denizens/inhabitants of that house. And now pretend that those inhabitants (which for ease I'll just refer to as "we"/"us") decided to bake a pie and let it cool on the window sill - again, for ease of reference let's refer to this pie as, ummm...how about "Girl Meets World." And then you have a bunch of interlopers come in and they say, "hey, guys, we remember a pie that smells a lot like the pie you just baked. It was a very delicious, scrumptious pie, and we'd appreciate it if you'd let us have some." And we say, "sure, I remember that pie! It was the same pie our moms used to make! I'm trying my best to replicate that recipie, and I hope I nailed it, so why don't you come in and try some!" And then we invite them in and they try a slice of that nice, fresh-baked pie we just made, and their response is "well it's not as good as mom's, but we'll keep trying." And they try the pie again. And again. And on the fourth slice they say "well it's got promise, but it's not as good as mom's" and by the time they finish they're screaming and yelling at us and telling us that our pie is complete and total shit and that we have no business ever making pies again.

And yet, they ate the whole damn thing. They didn't even leave any pieces for us.

Oh, and on top of that they also insulted our cake and told us it was a piece of shit (let's just call this cake, um, how about "Liv and Maddie") and they also helped themselves to our tiramisu and called it a piece of shit (let's for convenience refer to this tiramisu as "Jessie") and they saw our couch that we lovingly have named "Best Friends Whenever" and just helped themselves to it, all the while spilling all of our "I Didn't Do It" guacamole and "Austin & Ally" salsa all over it (while telling us it tastes like shit) and complaining that our couch is a piece of shit and put all their feet up on our "I'm Running Out of Series Titles Here" coffee table and complaining about how all the decor in our house is shit.

Yeah, they do that in my house, I'm a gonna be all FAUUUUULLLLLLLL! CAAAAUUUUN! PAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnCHCHCHCHCHCHCCCCCCHHHHHHHHH!!! them all in their fucking faces.




So yeah, I'm a little frustrated about things. Things way, way beyond just the show itself.

And then you have the final side of this triangle - the professional reviews. Again, the IGNs, the EWs, the Complexes, the AV Clubs, etc. Generally they tend to be somewhere in between those first two groups depending on how reverent or sarcastic they feel like being (which even for sites that aren't specifically gunning for that, given the Disney Channel subject is something they tend to do anyway). These are actually the most dangerous of all because it's what the general public's going to most likely see given they have the largest exposure by far - which means that every "Girl Meets World manages to rise up above the typical kiddie-faire of Disney Channel" or "Girl Meets World, despite the rich nostalgia mine at its disposal, refuses to rise above the kiddie-faire of its host network" deals blows to the overall network PR to at least some degree.

Mike talked about Fuller House on Netflix. Once upon a time there was another show on Netflix - Richie Rich, brought to you by Jeff Hodgson and Tim Pollack who were executive producers of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Suite Life on Deck and A.N.T. Farm (and responsible for some of the most lousy episodes of especially the latter-two series). Richie Rich was panned and rightfully so as one of the most awful multi-camera or live-action children's series to be carried on a "professional" network in the 'States. That doesn't mean that all that panning was fair as many reviewers for some bizarre reason kept insisting on comparing this obvious multi-cam kidcom to frickin' House of Cards and other "killer app" shows on Netflix. In a lot of ways it was the reverse scenario of what's happening to Disney Channel.

There's also a fourth side to this making it a square I guess - the fans who have been on the network prior to GMW - like Mike (and me, I suppose) and Spongey and Shipping Wars are Stupid and a few others on Twitter. Yeah we had pretty high expectations too and at the end of the day as Mike said in his retrospective we feel very little but to walk away disappointed. Unlike the other fans it may or may not have tempered our expectations of shows that were already airing, premiered in the middle or are just airing their first episodes or have yet to premiere - but, well, we expected more all the same.

Disney Channel's idea of damage control is completely non-existent

Of course none of this would matter or even exist if Disney Channel was better at damage control. Whether it's more direct through their PR channels, better promotion or just trying to provide a better product, it was all in their wheelhouse. Instead what we got was just endless apathy for their own existence, and the increasingly lengthening string of shows cut down after two seasons is directly a byproduct.

Jacobs and his crew and the show itself dropped the ball

Mike and Christian and Sean have already covered this extensively, and apparently I've made it so clear people apparently think I hate the show?, but yeah, it certainly dropped the ball. In my Emma's Chance review (see next post) I talk about having a positive, feel good message at the expense of everything else and while GMW didn't exactly do it in spades, it certainly went overboard at the expense of narrative and good storytelling. People may complain about how obnoxious and bereft of life lessons the other shows are, but given how the era those shows represents is a ratings megabuster and the era GMW represents is one where Disney Channel is struggling for fresh air, maybe those "obnoxious" shows were on to something.

Besides, it's not like GMW was somehow the only show trying to provide good, decent family entertainment instead of just whatever appeals to the most base, obnoxious tween demo. Good Luck Charlie, Liv and Maddie and even Jessie, let alone classics like Lizzie McGuire (which honestly I find incredibly boring) all tread the exact same path GMW got lauded for. I've said it before, and I'm still left wondering if Jacobs is simply too stuck in the 90s or if he's just lost his touch. Others have said it on IMDb too - sometimes it feels too dangerously close to an after school special and Meets Tater Tot, which I maintain is the worst episode of the series (quite possibly of the entirety of Disney Channel) really pushed that boundary with actors talking more like the eponymous puppet than actual human beings. 

It got too damn obligatory and too much of a damn chore to watch

The fastest way to kill a show for me is to make its viewing feel obligatory. What do I mean by that exactly? Well let's take another series example - The Walking Dead. I've never seen an episode of TWD and I refuse to. The lousy reception it got in its first season and ongoing, particularly from AV Club, pretty much permanently turned me off from it - but what doesn't help is, again, the hype, the feeling that you must watch it if for no other reason everyone else is. Peer pressure is a shitty reason to watch TV, and 9 times out of 10 it just makes me hate the show out of spite.

That's what GMW has gotten itself into, whether for its own fault or not. Because of the huge nostalgia connection it become the Disney Channel "it" show. The other "it" shows - Good Luck Charlie, Shake it Up, Austin & Ally - at least I found them entertaining enough on their own merits (hell, I'm a huge fan of Game of Thrones despite quite possibly being the most hyped show in history). But when GMW came along it pretty much swept out everything else on the network except maybe A&A to become that it show. And it wouldn't be so bad if the episodes were actually, you know, good. Instead we get utter shit like Meets Tater Tot, Meets Gravity, Meets Whatever and now watching it feels like a fucking chore. And when TV - goddamn fucking TV - starts feeling like a chore to watch, then congratulations TV, you just defeated your own fucking purpose. It makes me want to take a sledgehammer to my own 1080p HD TV and break it down into a million pieces, shoot down all the TV satellites and finally move to a different planet where I'm allowed to swear off TV forever for its lack of existence there (and well maybe air too but that's a minor issue).

Basically, it's all of the above cascading into a borefest that makes me want to curl up into an impenetrable hateball. This, BTW, is the whole reason why Mike had been handling GMW almost exclusively up to its very end. I just couldn't fucking take it anymore. I've reached peak GMW fatigue, and clearly so had a large chunk of the audience.

But, ugh, I already feel I've written too much about this as it is. Girl Meets World has had its time, and hopefully all those lessons and more have been learned, but we'll see in the coming year if Disney Channel has really taken those lessons to heart of if they'll continue to struggle while teetering on the edge of ratings oblivion. 



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...