Matt Groening’s foray into fantasy dropped its second season this week.
Wow do I wish I had more to say. Usually when I review something I’ll be watching it again on the other screen while I write, but Lego Batman’s on Netflix now, so is the Between Two Ferns movie and those are two things I would rather watch! It’s nothing against Disenchantment… no, wait, it is, it’s definitely something against Disenchantment because so help me I do not recall anything that happened in the series that I watched three days ago!
Continuing the storyline that began in the first season and wrapping up the cliffhanger we left in in which Princess Tiabeanie “Bean” leaves Dreamland with her evil mother, oblivious to the fact that said mother is evil. Elfo the elf is dead, Luci the demon is stuck in a bottle, and all the people of Dreamland have been turned to stone, leaving King Zog alone to go mad. All of the above is wrapped up within a couple of episodes, and we learn who the shadowy figures were, Bean’s aunt and uncle.
We now get new plot threads, an elf conspiracy that goes nowhere except now all the elves have moved into the kingdom despite the fact that the city is a terrible place for them, and there’s an ever growing mess with the mother’s side of the family. But… I mean we’re not here for the story, right, we’re here for the comedy? Not sure what happened to that either to be honest.
In season one, Bean was a troubled and rebellious teen, she seems like she’s lost a lot of her zest, becoming a wooden peg on which the plot hangs. Elfo’s incredibly upbeat attitude has been tempered by cynicism with an upbeat delivery, which suits his character progression but loses his naive obliviousness. And Luci, who had been the main source of cynical comedy suddenly takes a backseat. King Zog is beaten down and humbled and clashes less with Bean which was half of his schtick. The first season was rife with jokes that didn’t so much subvert fantasy expectations as shine a massive spotlight on them, mixed with some excellent wordplay, with comical situations and characters.
This time around the jokes are few and far between, and the watering down of the characters only makes the whole thing more bland, and that’s the worst of it, it’s just underwhelming. Secondary characters are thrust forward to negligible effect I felt like Disenchantment was building to something, and I feel like it burned through a lot of the interesting questions pretty easily and left us without much to drag us into season three, if such a thing is coming.
And the worst part is… if it does, I still think I’ll watch it. There’s a cliffhanger, a mystery or two, and a likeability to the cast of characters that makes viewing all too easy. This is passive viewing at its most passive, while the humour is weakened, fewer laugh out loud moments, but it remains watchable and vaguely entertaining, especially if you watch both seasons back to back because there are a handful of running jokes that are forgettable but still kind of humorous, and there’s enough interesting narrative to keep you just barely engaged while I do something else on the other screen… like complain about what I’m watching!
It all nets to somewhere around “watchable”, or perhaps “bearable” but given the legacy it’s come from that makes it something of a disappointment. From the creators of Futurama and the Simpsons comes “more of the same”. Enjoy it if that’s what you want in life.
Okay, I’m not going to lie, I set out to watch maybe half the episodes. I ended up binge watching this whole season in under two weeks. Again, I’m a slow watcher, take it easy on me, would you? Nevertheless, this has been an excellent season which shows a lot about the characters. Most of this season revolves around two parts of the exam, one part being a survival experience and the second part being a sort of tournament. The Chunin exam section is pretty much complete and yes, as I mentioned, I’m going to watch this whole damn series, no matter how big it is. So, here are my thoughts of season 2 of Naruto.
Very early in my D&D playing career, I ran a heavily sea-focused campaign in Eberron. Among my players was a man by the name of Eddie, one of my all time favourite players and dungeon masters. I cannot remember the name of the first ship they sailed in, I remember that it was a rundown junker, splintered and warped wood, ragged sails and frayed rope, but the figurehead was pristine, and clearly made of different material, a pale narwhal complete with ivory horn. Might have been the Icebreaker? Can’t recall. The first thing Eddie’s character – a druid called Wren – did was straddle the narwhal. (more…)
And so it looks like I am here to finish my reviews of Marvel’s foray onto Netflix. Oh sure, Jessica Jones hasn’t been cancelled, and neither has Punisher, really, but it’s only a matter of time and not a lot of time either the way these things are dropping. So while we wait for the last of the bad news, while Disney pulls in the dragnet, calling the last of its properties back to the mines, we have another series of Punisher to watch. (more…)
A little belated, because I must admit the release of another season of Iron Fist did not have me excited. Thus far the character of Danny Rand – across both his first season and the whole of The Defenders – has been shallow, narcissistic, bland, and a whole bunch of other bad adjectives. The story that surrounded him was rather lacklustre, the teeth were pulled out of The Hand, Madame Gao was distinctly underwhelming after both of them had proven enigmatic and powerful in previous parts of the series.
Which begs the question, can the Iron Fist be salvaged? What could possibly make the character likeable after one-and-a-bit series of dross? Well some of the reviewers who have espoused their opinions before I even saw the show seem to think so, and I’m… well let’s talk about it. A Spoiler Alert is in effect.
The first season of Netlfix’s Luke Cage was a bit of a dud firework, got off to a promising start but once the villain changed from Cottonmouth to the hitherto mysterious Diamondback, things went more than a little south. One bulletproof man against a criminal empire was interesting, Diamondback was weird and a bit dull, and despite the tech he brought with him he was simply not as scary as Cottonmouth and Black Mariah united.
Episode one of season two kicks off the season with renewed promise, but there’s a problem that I’m struggling to put my finger on.
Anyway, keeping up with my habit of reviewing each series, here’s what I thought of Luke Cage Season 2/Defenders Season 9. A Mild Spoiler Warning is in effect. (more…)
Wow this is late, it’s been nearly a month since the series was released, and considering that I pride myself on getting a review out in good time this is incredibly late, my apologies.
Jessica Jones is a pretty solid fan-favourite, I think that’s entirely fair to say. Her first series painted a portrait of a woman who has built a shell around herself out of snark, sarcasm, and alcoholism, and why wouldn’t she? She’s lost her entire family, was adopted into a deeply broken home, and has suffered greatly at the hands of a super-villain who has proven one of the darkest in television history.
No doubt she was one of the best parts of the lack lustre Defenders, maybe even the Netflix/Marvel project as a whole, and she’s the second character to get a second season. Here’s hoping it keeps the upward-swing going. Consider this your Spoiler Warning because it’s been a few weeks and there’s a lot here that can’t be discussed without a few reveals. (more…)
Got that out of the way, now onto the interesting stuff. Superbowl season is trailer season, and time for major releases to grab the attention of the biggest TV watching audience left. And while I’m not feeling well you’ll pardon me if I take this opportunity to have a quick gander over this year’s crop of attention grabbers. (more…)
My relationship with the Star Trek series is a scattered one, to say the least. I certainly have some love for the old school series with William Shatner & co; I also have a lot of love for The Next Generation series, but never really got into Voyager. I was also quite impressed with the film reboot with Chris Pine, but less impressed with the second and third film. So I will go out there and say that I am by no means a Trekkie. Over the last week or so I have been indulging in seeing what the new Netflix series Star Trek Discovery has to offer and so far, I have been pleasantly entertained by it.
There is something intensely beautiful about Babylon 5, despite the age and the increasingly dated characters. It has an aesthetic of its own that sets it apart from any science fiction before or since, and perhaps that’s in the design of the universe, the uniqueness of every race and their diversity, perhaps it’s in the epic musical score that underlies those moments of intense action or dramatic importance. Personally, I think it could be the philosophies and views espoused in the series, both subtly and overtly.
There is a scene in the episode “There, All Honour Lies”, very brief, in which Kosh is teaching Sheridan lessons that he will need to win a war of minds with the most powerful military forces in the galaxy. In the lesson, Sheridan is ushered into a dark place of the lowest part of the station, crawling on his hands and knees where he is greeted by a hunched and faceless figure who sits in silence until given something. Sheridan carries no cash, but instead places the metal bar that denotes him as command staff into the beggars bowl. As soon as he does, the dark chamber comes alive with shrouded figures identical to the beggar, singing in one angelic voice as the angelic Vorlon stands outside, entranced. One moment of perfect beauty.
The inquisitor sent by the Vorlons to “test” Delenn and Sheridan asks one question, over and over, “Who are you?“. Names, ranks, titles, none of them are the right answer, and he inflicts pain and suffering until both of them acknowledge that as individuals they are meaningless, but that their role stands for something. It is not long after this moment that the actions of Earth cause the crew to denounce and declare independence from Earth, and symbolically shed their uniforms, replaced by a blank uniform devoid of symbols.
Sheridan offering up his command bar builds upon that image. By taking away his symbol of command he takes a step towards humility, making himself more equal to the humble surroundings, connecting to them and appreciating them. In removing a label given to him by others he becomes more his own man, allowing him to define himself. Every step takes him away from a faction and makes him a part of the greater whole. You witness the moment of revelation on his face – kudos to Bruce Boxleitner for that subtle moment – and he embraces a new enthusiasm from that moment on.
Finding Beauty Everywhere
Much like when he visits G’Kar in his telepathic fugue, Kosh offers another lesson of light in places of shadow, hope in the midst of despair. Desperation causes us to resort to incredible measures, but a moment of clarity when the universe is crashing down around your ears is the only way to resolve the worst of situations. On their way down to the choir, Sheridan makes an off-hand comment about how Security Chief Garibaldi would go mad if they found them down in Brown Sector he’d go mad, just to impress how dangerous that part of the station is as a last-minute exaggeration before that singular moment of perfection.
Kosh lays the groundwork for a moment that comes later, for which a minor spoiler alert is in order – At Z’ah’adum, when Sheridan plummets to his death he is found by Lorien the First One, who encourages him to give in to the darkness utterly, to stop struggling and clinging to life and simply die, or else he could not be resurrected. Would Sheridan have simply lay down and died without the lesson, or would he have fought on, ultimately dooming himself and the galaxy in the process?
A Note On The Song
The song is Puer Natus Nobis Est, a Gregorian chant for Christmas. A Latin song for a human holiday rather puts pay to the notion of the choir being pac-ma-ra, but let us look at the translation:
A child is born to us and a Song is given to us upon whose shoulders authority rests,
and His Name shall be called, the Angel of Great Counsel
Sing ye to the Lord a new song for he has done wonderful things…
Incomplete, but sufficient for now. The Christ comparison is easy to make, a saviour who dies and is reborn, nice and easy, but Puer Natus Nobis Est never mentions the name. Sheridan bears the woes of his government while facing down a great darkness, but would also come to be the highest authority in the galaxy as head of the Interstellar Alliance. The Angel of Great Counsel could refer to Sheridan’s power to resolve more with words and advice than with application of military force.
I’d be open to other opinions on the choice of song. It’s not enough to merely dismiss it as a beautiful chant and a comparison to a saviour character, the use of Peur Natus has relevance, for which I am open to debate, please join me in the comments or over on our Facebook page.
I would challenge anyone to watch this particular moment in Babylon 5 and draw their own conclusions. It is beautiful, poignant, and not discussed nearly enough.