Riverdale – Ayoub’s Opinion

Okay. So. Why am I talking about Archie Comics? What on earth do Jughead, Archie, Betty, and Veronica have to do with a dark Twin Peaks-esque TV show?

Welcome to Riverdale.

Yes, those of you who remember the comics from back in the day will know that Riverdale is Archie’s home town, and it’s usually a place of innocent hi-jinks and good clean fun. Now that the comics have been rebooted (although I haven’t read the newer ones), the CW in the US and Netflix in the UK are airing this new series based on the rebooted comics. While on the surface this murder mystery in a town that has plenty of secrets seems like something we’ve all seen before (*cough* Twin Peaks, Pretty Little Liars *cough*) it’s different because the Archie comics’ characters are so well known.

The television show itself is full of twists and fairly grown up themes. The darkness added to the wholesome Archie characters doesn’t seem forced (they were always a little too happy in the old comics). Mädchen Amick‘s presence in the cast brings Twin Peaks to mind, while 90210 alum Luke Perry rebalances it slightly towards a high school drama, and the show switches between the two genres masterfully, aided well by Cole Sprouse‘s narration as Jughead.

Three episodes in and I’m loving the show enough to give it a 4/5 rating, but that’s partly because of my fondness for the characters of old. People not quite as familiar with the comics may not be so generous.

Voltron Reassembled

Matt here –
First off I need to say that I was a huge fan of the original Voltron series and as I got older, as with many cartoons from that time, the quality diminished because I got older and expected more. So when Voltron Force came out, I was on board. It was a follow up to the original story (Voltron of the Far Universe) and introduced us to some new faces alongside some old ones. It was really good and it did not talk down to the people watching it because it realized that it was as much adults watching as kids because we grew up on Voltron. Voltron Force would have gotten 9 out of 10 stars from me if it stuck around long enough to get reviewed.

Voltron: Legendary Defender gets a 7 and only that high because its Voltron. It tells the story of how the team (individually known as paladins) came together and their first steps towards defeating the Galran’s and their king Zarkon who has been ruling practically the entire known universe for 10,000 years while Voltron (and its guardians Allura and Coran) slept. While I was attempting to ignore the absurdity of that while watching, now that I write it I realize just how ridiculous it is that Voltron (and again, its defenders) slept during the time it was needed the most.

The format of the show was 11 episodes at an hour each and it is essentially formatted out as if there were 6 two hour movies. A crisis would come up and it would not be resolved until at least two hours later. This made it a bit more difficult to binge watch because it is like 6 1/2 movies. A smaller format would have made for easier watching. Keep that in mind when you read other reviews that say its like returning to Saturday morning cartoons.
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Now there is plenty good about it as well. Voltron itself was amazing and they didn’t make it easy for the paladins to learn to use him. So that was good. There are individual story lines that were pretty good as well. Pidge has a family story line that was pretty compelling, Lance and Keith had a fun rivalry going that kept things light often times and Hunks whole demeanor played pretty well. But there were just too many thing that didn’t play well. Rhys Darby has a super grating voice and they made him the main comedy relief. That made it difficult to watch when I first started. They swapped around some characters. Commander Keith is not a commander. That job has been replaced by a new character Shiro. Now Shiro’s story was actually pretty awesome, but it still takes quite a bit away from the nostalgia factor.

It is enjoyable, very much so. But it changes things that should not be changed and I am old and set in my ways. Its definitely worth a watch, just keep in mind it might take you a bit to do so.

Supergirl – Episode 10

Supergirl’s tenth episode brings us face-to-face with the Toyman, and gets a little deeper into the Maxwell Lord story arc.

The review continues after the image.

Spoilers

The Toyman is suitably creepy. No complaints there at all. The problem with this episode is that the Toyman story is not as imaginative as it could have been. It’s another example of how this series often lets the villain-of-the-week take a back seat to the story arc.

Some of the more interesting elements in this episode are: Lucy Lane gets a job at CatCo, J’onn J’onzz infiltrates Maxwell Lord’s secret lab and sees the secret project, and Kara and Winn have a heart-to-heart.

Alex distracts Maxwell Lord by going on a Date with him while J’onzz takes his shape and has a look around the lab. He finds the woman Lord’s been running experiments on and tries to get her out of there, but it doesn’t work out. Lord runs his own double gambit by planting a bug on Alex to discover that Alex and Supergirl are sisters.

This episode is good, but not great. It’s a set-up, more than a self contained episode. These things happen, and I’m looking forward to what happens next.

We Meet The Slowest Man Alive In This Weeks Flash

This week has the Flash, formerly known as The Fastest Man Alive, face off against The Turtle, who was dubbed The Slowest Man Alive. We get introduced to the character, who is played by Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrell of Battlestar Galactica fame) as a small time thief who quit stealing right after the accelerator explosion almost two years ago. About three months ago he started back up stealing trinkets that people value instead of high value items. He then puts them on private display, including his own wife, but he wants to add The Flash’s most prized item on display as well, Patty Spivot.

Why?
This is where the story breaks down. No one knows or says why. No one seems to care and they gloss over the fact that super powers or not, this guy is pretty lame, not to mention creepy.

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Eyes down here buddy!

During all of this, Patty Spivot, who is seemingly perfect for Barry, is starting to confront Barry about his strange behavior. The nightmares, the disappearances, the secrets. She mentions, and rightfully so, that she has been amazing about all of this, but its time to tell her whats going on. So Barry decides to do so, he decides to tell her he’s the Flash despite Harrison Wells urging not to, and just as he’s about to… Yes, you guessed it, he is interrupted by The Turtle. Then he hesitates to do so the next time they see each other, and the next time.. Until she breaks up with him. Barry may be a genius, but that does not stop him from being an idiot. A single idiot who has real long term chances with four very attractive ladies in two years, and blew his chance with all four.

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Wally West likes to go fast? Who woulda thunk it?

We can wrap this up with the incidentals. Wally West and Joe West butt heads a little before they make up and have Chinese food. Apparently Wally West loves speed in the form of street racing, much to Joe’s dismay. Harrison Wells grabbed part of The Turtle’s brain, presumably to slow down either Flash or Zoom, depending on what team you think he’s playing on. Lastly we see Reverse Flash run in, presumably from not only far in the future, but also from another Earth, most likely Earth 2.

Due to hating both the villain and Barry’s incompetence, I will give this 3 our of 5 stars. It was more enjoyable than most TV out there, but sub-par for a Flash episode. So what do you think? Did you like the episode? Tell us about it in the comments!

3stars

The Shannara Chronicles – Episodes 1-4

Let me begin by offering my opinion as to why this adaptation has started with the second book of the original Shannara trilogy: The first book had an uncomfortable number of parallels with the Lord of the Rings. I won’t go into more detail than that, because the world of Shannara evolved into something vastly different after that first book, and became an entity that can easily be differentiated from Tolkien’s classic.

Spoilers (and profanity) after the warning image. Fair warning: This review mentions a lot of stuff about the books. It may not make sense if you’ve never read them.

Spoilers

My first impressions, verbatim are: No. No no no no no. That is NOT how the fucking choosing ceremony works. It’s not the fucking Hunger Games. It may make for a good opening scene, but that just ruins the feel of the books. Hell Fucking No. Shannara has always been a slow build to a crescendo, and the magic is often understated rather than flashy. The Choosing ceremony illustrated the sentience of the Ellcrys better than anything I’ve seen so far here. To add insult to injury, they’ve turned Allanon into bloody Mad Max with magic. Allanon does not crack wise, he does not show off his muscles. He silences people with a look, rather than a fucking snappy comeback. What the fuck is this shit?

After giving it some more time (meaning I went for a walk), I feel that at least the rest of the characters are reasonably faithful to the book, especially Eretria, but having Allanon’s broody, chilling presence replaced by an action hero is just wrong on so many levels.

Also, Wil is now Shea’s son rather than grandson? And Shea, the goody-two-shoes hero of the damned Four Lands becomes a drunk?

Okay, this thing is a huge departure from the books. So many things out of order, so many changes. I’ll just have to start reviewing this thing as a TV show that mildly resembles a favourite book series rather than an actual dramatisation, because This is the MTV-I-A (bonus points to anyone who remembers that reference ;)).

As the show begins, it’s all very exciting and full of beautiful people, as is expected from an MTV show. There are some wonderful touches in the opening credits that set up the world visually. The end of the world is seen, then through blood we see that the Gnomes, Dwarves, and Trolls are mutations of the original human race. We also see an elven person after the blood trail ends. This is not an oversight. In the world of Shannara, the Elves have always existed alongside, and hidden from, the human race. They only reveal themselves after the great war. I thought it was a nice touch.

In this re-imagining, the Dagda-Mor is now a fallen Druid, and there’s also an early reference to the Illdatch. This means that it’s likely that, as the seasons progress (if it gets renewed), young Will Ohmsford is going to take on the burdens of his descendants and go on their journeys, too, which will be tricky unless there are more features of the world added from later books. My theory is reinforced because Wing Hove also gets an early mention, and the elves of Wing Hove only appear from the fourth book onward. I’m guessing airships will come in at some point soon if they’re going that way, but they may wait for a second season for that, as their availability would break the Elfstones story. Tegging back to the Dagda-Mor, he was originally a demon imprisoned in the Forbidding millennia before the great war, so he pre-dated any of the Druids. Changing him to become a Druid who got sent there by the Illdatch (the darker counterpart of the Ellcrys) would also fit with the complete and utter fucking-up of Allanon, especially if he’s meant to be more like Walker Boh (The guy who became the next Druid after Allanon). With that observation, I can maybe forgive them a tiny little bit for that. Walker was a little more relaxed than Allanon, and would more frequently show his face.

The Shannara Chronicles is good television. It’s just not a faithful reproduction of the Shannara books. It’s going for immediate thrills and abandoning the slow build approach that Terry Brooks is so good at. The problem with television is that the slow build type of storytelling doesn’t work unless it’s a Netflix show.

As a Shannara story, I give this show 1 out of 5, but as a TV show, I’ll give it a tentative 4 out of 5. Tentative mainly because there are a few lines in there that really seem out of place with the language used in the rest of the story. Yes, the heroes are teens, but they’re not teens from this era, so they shouldn’t be using phrases from this era.

We’ll see how it goes.

Have you seen it yet? If you haven’t read the books, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!