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Category Archives: Television

Ashley’s Favorite TV of 2013

When I started working for Nerdophiles last year, a lot of my work became TV recaps. So you can imagine that TV became more of a part of my life than it usually is. I mean, I already love TV, much to the horror of some of my friends who brag about how they don’t watch TV.

So what were my favorite TV shows last year? Well, that question might be more than you’re prepared for. I’m breaking it down by new shows, returning shows, and favorite episodes. Got it? Good. Here we go then.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but prepare for spoilers!

Favorite New Shows

Credit: IMDb

Credit: IMDb

Honorable Mention: Masters Of Sex (Showtime)

It’s kind of insane how quickly I got addicted to watching this show. What started off with me and my friend Roger just wanting to watch a few episodes lead to us mainlining the series over the course of several nights. There are parts of it that can be silly and tropetastic as hell (like the finale with Bill Masters waiting in the rain to tell Ginny how much he needs her), but it’s also a compelling well acted drama that Showtime should be proud to have. Even if it does occasionally fall under the HBO trope of drama and boobs. I can’t wait to sit on the futon, eating pizza and cry over the somewhat fictionalized lives of Masters and Johnson more next season.

6.) Wander Over Yonder (Disney Channel)

This is such a weird little show that I’m kind of surprised it made it on Disney, but they’ve also been playing Phineas and Ferb for several years that I really shouldn’t be. This Craig McCracken created show also features major collaboration from his animation partner and wife Lauren Faust. Combining the wackiness of 90s Cartoon Network with the heart of the first season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Wander Over Yonder is an adorably sweet and silly show about the misadventures of a kind space traveller named Wander and his best friend/companion/steed and certified badass Sylvia. It can be weird, but it’s the good kind of weird that gives you the warm fuzzies when you’re done watching.

5.) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)

Credit: IMDb

Credit: IMDb

I can practically hear your eye rolling from here. I’ll admit that this show did have its bumps early in the season, but a lot of good shows have. Around episode six, we do see an upswing in quality not unlike its Whedonverse predecessor Dollhouse. Maybe I’m a little biased since I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe so much, but the show is a whole lot of fun with the stories and characters and it gives us a chance to see the MCU outside of the movies. Instead of just hearing about a brave new world post-The Avengers every six months, we get to see it. And now that this season’s Big Bad is starting to unfold, I’m looking forward to the back half payoff.

4.) Bravest Warriors (Cartoon Hangover)

Technically, this show started in late 2012, but so much of the show aired in 2013 that I’m giving it a pass. This show is like Adventure Time’s weirder, cruder, and yet somehow cooler older brother. Which is not to say that Adventure Time isn’t cool anymore. It just means Bravest Warriors can get away with more shit. It’s strange, compelling, and funny as hell. The best part of the show though? CATBUG! Because your life needs an adorable cat-ladybug hybrid that’s voiced by a six year old boy. Don’t tell me it doesn’t.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

3.) Steven Universe (Cartoon Network)

BLESS REBECCA SUGAR SO MUCH. THIS SHOW IS A GIFT.

A lot of people have dismissed the show because of Sugar’s involvement with Adventure Time, expecting it to me more of the show’s usually weird out humor. However, I wonder if these people miss the fact that Sugar co-wrote some of the show’s most emotional and feminist episodes. Lucky for us, Steven Universe carries so much of Sugar’s touch that made those episodes stand out. About a young boy named Steven who wants nothing more than to be like his magical girl guardians The Crystal Gems, the show mixes a lot of Adventure Time with the magic and beauty of 90s shojo/magical girl anime. It also doesn’t hurt that on a show and network aimed at boys, three of the main characters we see nearly every week are women that Steven loves and who love him right back. Women that are easily distinguishable from each other in appearance and personality. It’s something that is needed more of in animation and I’m so happy that this show does it.

2.) Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)

I’ve talked at length already about the original Netflix comedy-drama set in a women’s prison and for good reason. It’s a rare show, even for premium outlets like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix. It’s smart, funny, emotional, and actually gives women a chance to be in stories that are usually reserved for men. In fact, a lot of the men in this show fulfill the roles usually filled by women in shows like this and it’s an interesting switch up to see. Really though, for me, it’s all about Burset and Red. It’s Laverne Cox and Kate Mulgrew’s world. We just live in it.

This bathroom has way more stalls than the actual bathroom in the series...

1.) Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox)

I did not expect to watch this show, let alone love it so much. And yet, I fell so hard, I’m surprised I didn’t bust my head on the pavement. A workplace comedy that my friend Missy has described as “Parks and Recreation meets Reno 911!,” this show is gut-bustingly funny while giving us characters to root for each week. It’s also probably one of the most diverse shows on TV right now, with characters that paint a wide swath of demographics without ever depending on stereotype humor to get it done. If you’ve been hesitant on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, just watch this clip of Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) trying to build a princess castle and get back to me later.

  

Favorite Returning Shows

(Note: For the sake of this section, a returning show is defined as a show that started a new season, a previously established show that chugged through all of 2013, and/or returned from a hiatus of four months or longer.)

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

6.) The Legend of Korra (Nickelodeon)

I feel like I need to put a huge caveat right at the beginning of this segment since I recapped the entire season for Nerdophiles. That caveat is that I ONLY LIKED THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON. The second half is pretty much the only reason The Legend of Korra is on the list. The first half was a confused mess of episodes. Every episode from Beginnings on was some of the best TV I watched all year. However, you probably have to endure the first part of the season to understand what’s going on. Still, for the terrible buildup, the payoff is fantastic with gorgeous animation and emotional stories that no other show could do.

5.) Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

Adventure Time didn’t really go anywhere in 2013. Season 5 has been plowing through since 2012 and is finishing up its season now. That doesn’t mean the season didn’t actually go anywhere though. This season was probably some of the darkest, most absurd and most dramatic this series has gotten. In the best way possible, of course. Instead of feeling like experiments in randomness like the first season or two, the fifth season of Adventure Time has proven that it does indeed have a rich universe at the core.

4.) Arrested Development (Netflix)

Credit: IMDb

Credit: IMDb

Mitchell Hurwitz finally delivered on his promise of more Arrested Development this year with the series’s highly anticipated return on Netflix. I’ll admit, the way the story was told this season was a bit jarring, with each episode focusing on one character at a time and telling their part of the giant story of the fourth season. However, it actually made for interesting watching and upped the rewatch value of a show that has traditionally made its viewers pay attention to the jokes. Plus, it was just really fantastic to see Maeby struggle for once and GOB just be… well… GOB.

3.) Elementary (CBS)

Elementary had a lot riding on it going into the second season. What, with Sherlock’s one true love also being his one true enemy and Joan coming into her own as a detective. So far though, the second season has kept up that quality with introducing the audience to Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and Sherlock having to come to terms with the fact that his methods do often conflict with how others perceive him and do their work. However, that also brings out Sherlock’s humanity, which isn’t really seen in other Holmes adaptations. It’s also just immensely satisfying to see Joan grow into her own as a detective and do so enthusiastically.

Welcome to Gravity Falls!2.) Gravity Falls (Disney Channel)

Technically, the show was still in it’s first season this year, but experienced a four month hiatus between the episodes ‘Summerween’ and ‘Boss Mabel.’ However, the second half of the season was well worth the wait and showed why the show has the devoted fanbase it does. The episodes were adorable and funny, but also had the characters dealing with real things amongst all the supernatural that lives in Gravity Falls, Oregon. Dipper learned that interfering with someone’s life for your own gain doesn’t mean they’ll appreciate it, no matter how good your intentions were. Mabel experiences her first love and learns what it really means to love someone. Stan has to learn how to be a guardian and not just… well… Stan. It was compelling and fantastic, especially when the characters really became tested in the later episodes. Not to mention the season finale is what dreams are made of.

1.) Parks and Recreation (NBC)

I think the second half of season five and the early part of season six just prove why I love this show so much. We see Leslie and Ben get married! April becomes the head of animal control! Andy bounces back from failing to get into the police academy! Ron gets married to a woman who isn’t Tammy! Leslie loses her job and is starting to realize that she might be too big for Pawnee now! Most comedies would have fallen into a usual cycle by this point, but Parks and Recreation still delivers the character development that makes us love the characters and want them to succeed instead of laugh at their failures.

 

Favorite TV Episodes

Honorable Mention: Colbchella ‘013

As much as I love The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, it’s often hard to remember them by whole episodes. Segments, yes, but not entire episodes. There are a few standout episodes though and the Colbchella ‘013 episode of The Colbert Report is one of them. Born out of the most bullshit Viacom contract ever, the episode came together out of a mix of original plans and winging it to create what was one of the most epic episodes of anything on Comedy Central. Most people will remember the elaborate music video to Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky,’ but there was so much more there to be had if you’re willing to set aside the 23 minutes to do it. Well, 20 if you skip ‘Blurred Lines’ like I do because fuck that song.

6.) ‘FZZT’ (1×06) – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

You know what I said earlier about S.H.I.E.L.D? Yeah, this is the episode you realize you’ve started to care about the characters on the show. Centered around the apparent murder of a first responder to The Battle of New York (aka the entire third act of The Avengers), it soon turns out to be an alien disease killing the firefighters and puts one of the team’s own in danger. I did a full recap of the episode here, but it’s definitely the episode where the emotional resonance and cliffhangery action makes me want to tell people to give the show another shot.

5.)’Sky Witch’ (5×29) – Adventure Time

As I mentioned before, there were a LOT of episodes of Adventure Time to choose from this year. From ‘Bad Little Boy,’ ‘Simon and Marcy,’ ‘Frost and Fire,’ ‘Jake The Dad,’ ‘Be More,’ ‘James Baxter The Horse,’ and ‘The Vault’ were all contenders. However, when I began to think of episodes, ‘Sky Witch’ was the first one that came to mind. The first episode focused solely on Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, it has the two perpetual teenagers going on a hunt for Marceline’s long lost bear Hambo in the lair of Maja the Sky Witch. It was not a Rebecca Sugar episode, but an episode I don’t think could have existed if she hadn’t laid groundwork for these characters. Marceline is determined and stubborn, but still a softie who just wants to hold on to that last piece of Simon she has. Bubblegum doesn’t really get it and can be quite abrasive, but she uses her brain and comes through for her friend in the end as a result. The show could benefit from more episodes like ‘Sky Witch,’ and I’m not just saying that as a Sugarless Gum shipper. Though, really, the fact that the shirt Marcy gave Bonnibel had more sentimentality in it than Hambo did really set off my shipper alarm.

4.) ‘The Chickening’ (1×05) – Orange Is The New Black

Most of what people will remember about this episode is the chicken and for good reason. The hunt for the mystic feral chicken leads to some of the funniest moments on the show in the first season and is part of the reason I think Kate Mulgrew needs an award for her performance on the show (that, and the ending of ‘Bora Bora Bora’ where she resolves to end Pornstache). However, the episode is also astounding for seeing how prison life is starting to get to Chapman, seeing the beginning of the friendship between Burset and Sister Ingalls, and just how messed up the relationship between Daya and her mother Aleida is. It’s my favorite, and one I’m looking forward to rewatching on my Orange is the New Black rewatch in a few months.

3.) ‘Leslie and Ben’ (5×14) – Parks and Recreation

This episode was written to be a series finale just in case they didn’t get a back half order for season 5. If this is where the show had ended, I would have been so happy. After seeing Leslie’s plan for the Pawnee Commons come together, Leslie and Ben decide that they’re going to get married at the benefit gala for the new park that night. Everyone scrambles to get the wedding together, but they do so happily for their friends and even come through when it seems as if everything they worked for that evening is in jeopardy. I cried so many times watching the episode, but all happy tears to see Leslie and Ben get their own happy next chapter. Plus, Ron punches Councilman Jamm and it’s the best.

2.) ‘The Woman/Heroine’ (1×23-24) – Elementary 

I’ll admit, I predicted the twist that happened in this episode a few weeks prior, but it was more of “Hey, wouldn’t that be cool?” versus an actual episode prediction. But nope, this episode turned my expectation that they wouldn’t have the balls to make The Woman into Sherlock’s greatest villain, but it did and it was amazing! Natalie Dormer was perfect as the cunning Jamie Moriarty and her character Irene Adler, and to watch her contend with Sherlock to the point she didn’t even see Joan coming to take her down reminded me just why I was all about Elementary from the beginning. Sherlock Holmes may be one of the smartest men around, but even he has his blind spots to be exploited but also protected. And Joan Watson is never to be underestimated ever.

1.) ‘Beginnings, Parts 1 and 2’ (2×07-8) – The Legend of Korra

I’ve gone on at length about these episodes. I’ve cried at length about these episodes and how they’re some of the best stories told in the Avatar universe. The animation is beautiful and the story is emotional to the point I can’t think about Avatar Wan or Raava without getting a little teary eyed. Even if Korra has left you cold, ‘Beginnings’ is worth a watch to see how the universe came about.

Well, that’s it for TV in 2013. If you thought this post was bad, well prepare yourself now because guess what?

I saved my music post for last. 

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Television

 

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You’ve Got Time: Six reasons you need to be watching Orange is the New Black

Last week, I had a brief stint petsitting for a rather nice couple in this dimension. They had access to Netflix, which I haven’t had access to since after the new season of Arrested Development came out. Since I now had Netflix back in my life for a brief amount of time, I decided to start on Orange Is The New Black because so many people I know had been talking about it. I figured I could start it, and then pick back up this week when I went back for a longer petsitting stint.

I ended up marathoning the entire first season the entire time I was there.

I couldn’t help it! Orange Is The New Black is one of the most captivating new dramas I’ve seen in a long time that didn’t involve Sherlock Holmes or some sort of science fiction aspect. It’s just a series about women making the best of what they have, even if that is in a federal prison.

You’ve probably heard a lot about Orange Is The New Black. Maybe you’ve heard nothing at all. Whatever you’ve heard, I want to tell you about why you should be watching this show.

This bathroom has way more stalls than the actual bathroom in the series...

1.) It’s honestly and truly about women – There are a lot of shows out there that tell me they’re about women, but don’t feel that way. Any period of time watching Lifetime or Oxygen will do that. It often feels like it’s just what marketing tells people what women are like.

Orange Is The New Black doesn’t do that.

Since the show is set in a women’s prison, 98% of the characters are women. In fact, there are only 10 male characters that are seen in multiple episodes and only three of them have been in all 13 episodes of season one. That leaves us with a dynamic cast of women that come from all walks of life. There are women of color, queer women, plus sized women, and immigrant women, and they all have their own stories. They’re not their to be plot accessories to Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). They are a part of her story, but they’re there with their own stories as well.

2.) It tells a trans* story that doesn’t end in tragedy – One of the remarkable things about Laverne Cox as Sophia Bursetthe show is that there is a trans* character that is played by a trans* woman. Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) is the prison’s hair stylist who is in prison for credit card fraud. Before going to prison, her wife Crystal was very supportive of her transition and even helped her pick out new clothes for herself. Her relationship with her son Michael becomes strained, but we see that perhaps it is on the route to rebuilding for season 2.

Sophia could have easily been a background character who only got focus in a couple of episodes. Instead, we see her for a majority of the first season. We see that she’s extremely resourceful, which is something that landed her in prison and is what is helping her survive it. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit, but is learning to work through her own. It’s also refreshing that one character we see her becoming good friends with is a nun named Sister Ingalls (Beth Fowler), which helps prove that religion identity doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive from the company you choose to keep. While Burset’s story is one that rarely happens in real life, it is refreshing to see it play out the way it has on television.

3.) Chapman is a great everyman character – Love her or hate her, Chapman does exactly what she’s supposed to do in this story: be our eyes and ears to prison life from an outside perspective. She’s extremely privileged, coming from a WASP-y as hell background and only getting 15 months at Litchfield for a crime she committed a decade before, but she still has to come face to face with herself in prison. She has to learn to survive in a way she’s never had to before and with people she’s not used to experiencing in her day to day life. While she can be obnoxious, I know that I would probably be similar to her if I had to go to jail. She’s no Joan Watson, but Chapman is a great insider to being the new fish in the fishbowl.

Welcome to the big house...

4.) It’s extremely funny – The later episodes of season 1 definitely fall more in the drama category, but at its heart, it’s a dramedy. And when it goes funny, it doesn’t relent. Characters like Taystee, Nicky, Big Boo, and Susie provide consistent hilarity while still being allowed to have their own stories outside of being comedic relief.

However, there is no funnier episode than episode 5, “The Chickening.” The whole episode is about what happens when Piper sees a feral chicken in the yard and the frenzy it sets off when everyone wants to catch it. The character who carries this episode the most is Red, who is played masterfully by Kate Mulgrew. I keep saying she needs to win an Emmy for this show. Partially for the later episodes, but mostly for the following speech:

The cover of the original book5.) It’s based on a true story! …Sorta – Orange Is The New Black is based on a book by the same name by a woman named Piper Kerman, who serves as executive producer of the series. Now, I haven’t actually read the book yet, but from my understanding, the series takes the basic premise of Kerman’s experience (spending 15 months in a federal prison for transporting drug money with her girlfriend 10 years before) as well as basis for  some of the characters, but everything else was embellished for television. The biggest one being her relationship with her fiancé. For Kerman, Larry Smith was extremely supportive and helpful to her. For Chapman, Larry Bloom (played by Jason Biggs) is what most people would call a “tool.” He’s extremely exploitive of his fiancé’s situation, but won’t take opportunity to try to see her side of it.

Still, it’s cool to know that a series like this has some basis in reality, even if it’s just the frame work for which the rest of the series is painted in.

6.) It gives humanity and sympathy to characters that usually get none – Most of the time in fiction, we’re not allowed to identify with people in prison. Unless they’re some sort of male anti-hero. Female criminals don’t exist except to be a cautionary tale.

Orange Is The New Black is not a cautionary tale. It’s a story of women who have made mistakes. Mistakes that they’re still grappling with. It’s the story of how they cope, how they survive, and how they maintain what’s left of their life on the outside. They’re not saints, but they’re not complete sinners either. They’re just humans doing their best with what they’ve got.

Which, really, is why the series is so easy to marathon in a day. Maybe it is a bit sensational, but there is still real human emotion to be had.

This is my new favorite cast photo, btw.

I’m back on a regular schedule this week. Come back on Wednesday where I give another six reasons list for something completely different.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Television

 

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My newest favorite things: Gravity Falls and Against Me!

I know I said that this post was going to be about Moonrise Kingdom, and that post will come on Wednesday, but I had to reserve this post for reasons of discovery. About the true trans soul rebel who speaks to my heart, and the clever supernatural animated show that makes me happy to be an adult while I’m watching it.

Sometime last week, I was finally convinced to watch Gravity Falls, the latest animated show on the Disney Channel. I wasn’t entirely sure until a friend of mine told me that it was basically Twin Peaks. Now I haven’t seen Twin Peaks, but any mention of a Disney Channel show that is modeled after a David Lynch TV show must be some sort of quality.

And oh, how correct I was. No… not even correct describes how quality Gravity Falls is. Centered around twins Dipper and Mabel Pines during their summer in Gravity Falls, Oregon, each episode has the two dealing with a new supernatural element of the town. When the first episode dealt with gnomes that puke rainbows and form a giant gnome like a Japanese mecha, I knew I was going to enjoy the series greatly. The animation style is really cute and the characters are extremely fun and well developed. It always makes me happy when the girly girl can get rough and tumble the way Mabel does or when a boy like Dipper realizes that he doesn’t have to be alpha male all the time in order to be a man. Not to mention that the plots and writing seem to be getting more and more hilarious with each episode. As I’ve described to many people, the series is like every funny episode of The X-Files and Supernatural without the undercurrent of angst that each series has.

Even with all it’s supernatural mysteries that would have scared me as a little kid, the series is still a funny show about clever kids having the most awesome summer vacation ever. It’s hard to believe this show made it on the Disney Channel since the content feels more like it should be leading in to The Legend of Korra or Adventure Time. Still, if you like quirky and clever animated shows and your supernatural with a side of comedy, Gravity Falls is right up your alley!

My second discovery this week is something I’ve been flirting with for a while. Since frontwoman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender, I’ve been slowly getting into her band. My first foray was their acoustic Daytrotter session, but it was this weekend that I finally booted up Spotify to listen to New Wave and White Crosses.

I was barely a minute into ‘New Wave’ when I shouted “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!”

I’ve liked a few bands with punk and political angles to them in the past, but something about Against Me! feels different. Grace’s lyrics aren’t just anger and frustration against the mainstream, it’s also just as much against certain things of the circles she falls in. ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ and ‘Thrash Unreal’ are prime examples of this. It’s weird to explain, but all the parts of me that get frustrated at the world seem to be spelled out by Grace’s lyrics, but also the parts of me that believe in the best. ‘New Wave’ is how I feel about being in the Steampunk scene and ‘Bamboo Bones’ gives me hope for getting through the worst times. Which, if you’ve been reading my blog lately, it’s not been a great mental place for me. Even if I’m getting slightly better.

I still have a few more albums to listen to, but I feel like I’m going to enjoy listening to and becoming a fan of Against Me! I’m sure that I’ll be considered a bandwagon jumper by some since I’m giving the band a shot after their lead singer tells the world she’s a transwoman, but I really don’t care. Grace is a woman of conviction, and if she lost a few fans because she decided to finally live publicly as her true self, then I hope she gains ones full of intelligence, love, and respect.

Because she, like all of us, deserves to be surrounded by such.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Music, Television

 

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Reversing retrofuturistic technology tropes with The Legend of Korra

Good Monday, readers. I’m going to have to apologize again for the delay on my review of The Avengers. Getting prepared for and attending Steampunk World’s Fair made writing blogs a bit difficult. Plus, watching my new favorite television show made me want to change my next topic.

Earlier this year, I decided that I was finally going to start watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Mostly because I have been hearing about the series for years and wanted to finally see what everyone was talking about, but partially because I REALLY wanted to see The Legend of Korra and the completionist that I am wouldn’t let me watch the new series without seeing the old.

Desire to see The Legend of Korra aside, I massively enjoyed Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was great example of the power of animation. It was emotional and heavy, but it still managed to include a lot of life’s natural humor within it’s books as well. The action was well done, and getting to know the characters was like getting to know a group of friends. Aang’s journey to becoming a fully realized Avatar wasn’t just a story for children. It was a story that was timeless at any age.

It didn’t hurt for me that the series was a little bit Steampunk as well. It wasn’t as overt as some series. Most of the world of Avatar had been set back technology wise due to the Hundred Year War, but there was still a nice range of technological advancements that benefited benders and non-benders alike. My favorite example of this was ‘The Northern Air Temple’, where Aang returns to one of the air temples to see that a group of refugees with flying machines has taken over living there. This is the beginning of the Gaang’s  relationship with The Mechanist as well as an interesting take on adapting technology in a world based on bending of the elements and how to use said technology against those who would use it to destroy. It’s a common trope in Steampunk and Retrofuturistic works that the antagonists are at the technological advantage and it’s up to the protagonists to use their skills to defeat them, be it their own inventions, wits, or powers. But it’s a trope that works if it’s done right, and I think Avatar: The Last Airbender managed to balance that question of advancing technology fairly well.

(WARNING: What follows will include some SPOILERS for the two most recent episodes of The Legend of Korra. Proceed at your own risk.)

Flash-forward 70 years to The Legend of Korra. After the Hundred Year War, the world is less divided. So much so that the United Republic of Nations was formed as a place that the world could live in harmony. This causes a spike in the technology that was used by the Fire Nation and the Resistance to create a world where bending and technology have come to co-exist completely. Firebenders work lightening in the power plants, metalbenders help enforce the laws of Republic City, and the world’s main sport is a confluence of bending and tech. This, of course, leads to a technological have and have not situation between Avatar Korra and the battles she has to fight. Except this time, the ones that have the technology are the ones that have been repressed by the bending co-dependence.

You see, a large part of the “Antagonists Have the Technology” trope in Retrofuturistic fiction is that it’s mostly in the hands of the repressors. It happened in The Hunger Games with the Capitol keeping the Districts away from the technology they had as much as possible, and it definitely happened during Aang’s time as the Avatar. How often did we see Aang and his friends have to fight off a Fire Nation tank, War Balloon, or Drill? We even saw Sokka, Suki and Toph take out a whole fleet of flying war machines that were going to help Ozai destroy the Earth Kingdom in the final episode.

But here in The Legend of Korra, it’s especially emphasized that the ones with the technology that could cause danger to the city are the rebels who want to take out the bending piece of the equation. While ‘The Aftermath’ showed that this technology was being provided by Hiroshi Sato, the richest man in Republic City, it’s still being dispersed to rebels of all classes. It’s being given to people who aren’t seen as valuable by some people in the city due to their lack of bending, and are willing to put the balance of the city and others in danger in order to put everyone on the same level. Basically, for once, the antagonists are regular people who just happen to have access to electric gauntlets and platinum mechs that can’t be bent by the police.

The fact that Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino decided to reverse the common trope in this way just emphasizes a certain point in the war between Republic City and the Equalists. That there is a certain discrepancy between benders and non-benders in the world of Avatar and it’s only emphasized by the fact that so much of the jobs and technology in the world depend on benders to use it. While not all benders are like this, there are certain benders that will abuse their powers and abilities to get what they want and it has only been made worse in the years between Aang’s death and Korra’s arrival in Republic City. Now it’s Korra’s job to fight against those who want all benders taken out of the equation for the actions of few. Coexistence is not an option for these people any more, despite the fact that taking benders away from Republic City will upset the balance of it. It opens the door to how Korra has to consider her fight, how she will recognize the privilege she has as the Avatar, and how she will find a way to bring peace back to the city that has desperately needed its Avatar since the death of Aang.

Sadly, we have two weeks in between this episode and the next episode, but hopefully we’ll begin to see how Korra will begin to approach this fight and carry on the legacy that Aang left behind.

My Avengers review will come this week, but I’ll also be looking at the ladies of the Avatar universe as well. Why? Because why not.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Steampunk, Television

 

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My Six Favorite Fictional Moms

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I spent the day seeing The Avengers for the second time with my mother. It was quite exciting! And by exciting, I mean emotional.

Anyway, while we were sitting in the coffee shop, waiting for the movie to start, I decided to come up with my list of my six favorite fictional mothers. Mostly from television, these are the mothers that make me wish I lived in their universes, no matter how screwed up those universes actually are. And believe me… some of them are…

Let’s start with our honorable mention, though.

Honorable Mention: President Laura Roslin (Battlestar Galactica)

While Laura herself was not a mother to anyone person, she was very much like a mother to the fleet and to many of the people on board the Galactica. Smart, caring, and headstrong, Laura did what she needed to do to help with the preservation of the human race. All while fighting cancer. She made her mistakes, but there was no one in the fleet more fearsome than President Roslin. Well, maybe Admiral Adama, but considering the fact that she stood up to him more than once, I have to give it to the teacher.

 

 

6.) Marlene Griggs-Knope (Parks and Recreation)

Oh Marlene. The Iron C**tian of Pawnee. While we may not see a whole lot of Marlene Griggs-Knope, she’s still an awesome lady who you don’t want to cross. Her daughter may not always agree with her method of doing things, but it’s easy to see where Leslie gets her determination and drive from. I hope that now that Leslie has succeeded in getting on the Pawnee City Council that we’ll be seeing more of Marlene in City Hall.

 

5.) Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra)

Katara is another one of those mother-like figures. Caring and sweet, yet stern and tough, Katara of the Southern Water Tribe is always looking out for the best interest of her friends and people who need her help. She refuses to leave people behind, and she always stands up for the people she loves and herself. Of course, she can have a little bit of fun too. While we haven’t seen a whole lot of Katara actually being a mother, I bet that she was an awesome mother to Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin. And to Korra too.

4.) Francine Jones and Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who)

In the Whoniverse, there are some fierce mothers who stand up for their children, no matter how old they are. Or in the case of Amy Pond, how displaced out of time their daughters are from them. Still, this example is truest for Francine Jones and Jackie Tyler. Francine is the mother of Martha Jones, my favorite companion and it’s easy to see that badassery runs in the family. While Francine doesn’t become a part of Team TARDIS the way Rose’s mum Jackie does by the end of Davies’ run, she still stands up for Martha. Hell, she nearly shoots The Master after the Year That Never Was is reversed! Jackie is very similar to Francine in that she may not care completely about the Doctor, but she supports her daughter every step of the way. Of course, Jackie learns how to hold her own against the aliens of the universe and even makes the Doctor cringe a little bit.

3.) Morticia Addams (The Addams Family)

It’s hard to say why Morticia is just so perfect as a mother and as a person. Is it her cool demeanor? Is it the way that she cares about her children and how they get along? Or is it just the way that Morticia makes morbidness seem completely normal? Whatever it is, this matriarch of the Addams clan has continued to stand the test of time through comics, television, movies and broadway and has stayed the mother that every darkling wished they had.

 

 

 

2.) Joyce Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)

Starting off as the stereotypical ignorant mother to all of the things Buffy does, Joyce Summers ends up becoming a mother to two fierce and lovely daughters and pretty much all of the Scoobies in Sunnydale and beyond. While she initially disapproves of Buffy’s status as The Slayer, she comes to accept her daughter’s involvement with the supernatural and becomes her biggest line of support. When her character began to face health problems, we all worried and hoped that she would pull through in the end. Which, of course, didn’t happen, because Joss Whedon likes to break your heart in the worst possible way. Whenever I watch ‘The Body’, it becomes impossible not to mourn for Joyce. She wasn’t just Buffy’s mother. She was our mother too.

1.) Madeline Westen (Burn Notice)

I should preface this with how hilariously behind I am on Burn Notice. Like to the point that if I was to catch up, I would just have to go to the beginning and just start all over. However, no matter how behind I am, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I love Maddie Westen with a fire that can burn a million suns. While she may not be the perfect mother, she’s still a fierce and determined woman who will put her children first and will put a stop to anyone who tries to harm them. Even if one of them used to be a spy for the US government. Of course, she is the same mother who makes that spy shake in his boots. Maddie Westen, I love you and your chain-smoking self.

That’s it for fictional moms. Next month, I’ll feature my favorite dads. And on Wednesday, I’ll be spilling my feelings about The Avengers.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Film, Television

 

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Six(-ish) Things to Look Forward to in 2012!

Just a final reminder that there are only a few hours left to donate to The Extraordinary Contraptions kickstarter! Help a Steampunk band pull off a massive victory if you haven’t yet!

So, 2011 was a pretty good year in media, but what do we have to look forward to in 2012? Well, a lot of things, really! I’m here to highlight just a few of those things! Starting with…

6.) Indecision 2012

Elections are a rough and terrible time for everyone. It’s a lot of mudflinging, drama, and statements so painful, you could cry. However, for every election year, there is a shining light.

And that is The Daily Show’s Indecision coverage.

While Jon Stewart and his crew have already had a hell of a time covering the candidates so far, it’s sure to kick off into high gear this year as the Republicans pick a candidate and the various campaigns really get rolling. For every painful moment, you can be sure that The Daily Show will be there to cover it.

5.) New albums from Janelle Monae, Murder By Death, Shovels and Rope, The Extraordinary Contraptions, etc.

The exciting thing for any New Year for me is how much good music comes out. This year is already shaping up to be pretty awesome with Murder By Death, Shovels and Rope, Frenchy and the Punk, and my very own The Extraordinary Contraptions set to release new albums that are sure to appeal to the retrofuture lover in all of us. Even better is that the retrofuture cyberpunk queen Janelle Monae is planning on releasing not one, but TWO albums in 2012! And of course, that’s only just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps we will see new albums from Mumford and Sons, Black Cards, and Muse! We’ll definitely be hearing new albums from VV Brown, Santigold, and Garbage. Hell, we might even find something new this year too and there is sure to be someone I missed! How can you not be excited?

4.) The League of S.T.E.A.M., Season 2! Coming soon to an Internet Browser near you!

After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, everyone’s favorite team of Steampunk Paranormal Investigators will be returning to your computer screens with new adventures! With a bigger cast and more gadgets to boot! And if you’ve seen either, you know that both are quite impressive! Of course, there’s still plenty of time to catch up on Season 1 before the next season starts!

3.) Archer (and hopefully The Venture Bros.) is coming back!

Archer season 3 is probably the earliest thing coming on this list. Picking up where ‘Heart of Archness’ left off, season 3 sees Ray Gillette permanently paralyzed and Sterling and Lana still stuck in their endless loop of feelings. And the first episode, ‘The Man From Jupiter’, has Mallory going out with Burt Reynolds, Archer’s very favorite actor. While time will tell how this season measures up, it’s already proving to be just as hilarious as the previous season.

As for The Venture Bros, not much is known about Season 5 so far. We know that Doc and Jackson have signed on for it, and that they’re writing. Hopefully though, we’ll see some new episodes this year. Or at least a hint of how this season is going. After how ‘Operation P.R.O.M.’ left off, it’s going to be a doozy of a season.

2.) The Avatar cycle continues with The Legend of Korra

While I still have yet to finish Avatar: The Last Airbender, I’m still excited to finally meet Aang’s immediate successor in the Avatar cycle. She’s a headstrong, muscular waterbender from the Southern Tribe named Korra. The series is already setting out to be much darker than the previous series, with Korra being older and more trained than Aang and her main enemy being those who wish to eradicate the Element benders. Oh, did I mention that the series stars a tall, muscular Inuit woman? I’m sorry, I’m just really excited for an action series to have this kind of protagonist! And with each episode of A:TLA, my excitement for the future grows.

1.) Archery being popular thanks to Katniss Everdeen, Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, and Princess Merida

There is going to be a strangely coincidental trend in action heroes next year. In that three of them in highly publicized movies are going to rely on a bow and arrow as their preferred weapon. While Hawkeye will probably not be the main focus of The Avengers, he’ll still be a part of the team Marvel has been building up to since the release of Iron Man in 2008. As for our other two heroes, they’re both dynamic female characters. One character who values her family above all, and one who realizes her fate is not tied to marriage. Well, maybe that applies to Katniss too. Either way, not only will this hopefully lead to a spike in girls taking up archery lessons, but maybe it will lead to girls realizing they don’t need a Prince Charming. That they’re just fine without him. Either way, The Hunger Games and Brave are sure to be two shining examples of women in action adventure films.

 

Thank you so much for reading my blog so far. May your 2012 be joyous and wonderful!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Film, Internet, Music, Steampunk, Television

 

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Liesel’s Yearly Favorites: Six Favorite Discoveries of 2011

Hey everyone, it seems like I’m about to go out for New Years! So here are some quick reminders before I write this blog! There are less than 30 hours left to donate to The Extraordinary Contraptions kickstarter and six days to donate to Penny Dreadful Productions’ Remnant! Both are great Atlanta based Steampunk projects that deserve your support!

Anyway, these are my six favorite things that I discovered this past year!

6.) Shovels and Rope

I had heard of these two for some time, but never really listened to them until I saw them open for Butch Walker and the Black Widows this past tour. A combination of two solo projects from Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, Shovels and Rope is a duo that proves that you don’t have a whole lot to make old school country/bluegrass with a big sound and heart. Playing with a junkyard drumset, guitar, and a little harmonica, the two tell stories as old as time, but in a fresh and exciting way. If Shovels and Rope are coming to your town, I highly suggest taking a look!

5.) Archer

Archer is probably the wrongest animated show to come on in years, but that’s why it’s so amazing. A mix of Arrested Development and James Bond, Archer tells of the misadventures of Sterling Archer and his fellow coworkers at ISIS. While Sterling is a hilarious character who is the ultimate self server, a lot of the humor comes from the others at the ISIS office. While Mallory Archer is pretty much the same as Lucille Bluth, she’s still the perfect example of the ultimate non caring mother. Probably my favorite characters in the series though are Human Resources head Pam Poovey, a woman of size who can hold her Jaeger better than anyone else, and Dr. Krieger, a scientist with the weirdest interests. So wrong, and so funny.

4.) Murder By Death

I blame this all on my dear Corbin. He kept mentioning this band, so I decided to finally check them out at Steampunk World’s Fair. Despite a very tiring and emotional day, I was fully entranced by this band telling stories of death and revenge. Much like Shovels and Rope, Murder By Death tell stories that are old as time. Sometimes with a supernatural twist, but always with a shot of Whiskey in hand. I enjoyed them so much that not only did I download most of their albums, I even saw them when I traveled to Alaska. Now THAT was a party.

3.) The Hunger Games

As I said in my blog about the books I enjoyed this year, The Hunger Games seems like such a simple concept on the surface. Years after the fall of America, the new government forces two children from each remaining district to face off in a yearly battle to the death for purposes of entertainment. However, once you read the books, it become so much more than that. It becomes evident that the Capitol put these games in place to punish the districts for something now long passed and squelch any hope of rebellion. When Katniss Everdeen becomes an inadvertent hero in her games, the series soon becomes a story about the terrible price one pays in war.

2.) Adventure Time and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

I should probably list these two separately, but they often feel like two sides of the same coin that it feels hard to separate the two. Both stories tell colorful tales in fantastical settings about the power of Friendship. For Adventure Time, it’s a surreal tale of a young boy and his dog as they travel around the land of Ooo. However, it’s very evident how important Jake is to Finn as well as the other friends he’s made along the way, including two very awesome girls named Bubblegum and Marceline, showing that boys can befriend girls and they aren’t just a personality-less accessory for their adventures. For Friendship is Magic, the story is more female focused, as Twilight Sparkle has to record the various lessons she learns about friendship she learns during her adventures. From here, we get a very diverse ensemble cast of fillies. They’re all very different, but they’re friends all the same. With their colorful natures and tales of Friendship, is it easy to tell why I think these two shows take place in the same universe.

1.) Parks and Recreation

Even while I was in the middle of this show, I was wondering where it had been my whole life. A bright and optimistic show done in a documentary style, it follows Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Leslie Knope as she tries to make her town of Pawnee a better place to live. The characters are rather loveable in a strange way and the stories are extremely well written. Overall, it’s a show that makes you love and care about the characters and the world they’re apart of. We’re not laughing at them. We’re laughing at the situations they get it. Like you do with friends you love and care about.

 

Happy New Year, everyone! Have a safe night tonight and tomorrow, I’ll be writing about things to look forward to in 2012! See you then!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Books, Music, Television

 

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