TV Shows

Outer Range

What is this growing fascination with telling incomplete stories? Is it greed? A cowardly nature? I think it’s both. A show creator is too cowardly to tell the story he/she wants lest they get lambasted for it and they want more money out of the studios so they can keep telling their half-story. Outer Range started off with so much potential, and by the end, we are blue-balled once again wanting answers. It doesn’t matter to me how well the visuals are, how well acted it is, or if the writing/dialogue is solid. If you don’t tell me a full story, and you leave more questions than answers, then I will not like your work. Plain and simple. Same reasoning why I severely disliked Dune despite it being excellent in all other fronts. Tell me a complete story. This is why Korean TV shows have such a high standard of excellence, because they know to tell a full story. To not linger with half-truths, and cliffhangers.

Outer Range stars Josh Brolin as Royal Abbot, a rancher with a mysterious past. His two sons, Rhett (Lewis Pullman) and Perry (Tom Pelphrey) get into a brawl with the neighbor’s kid, Trevor Tillerman, that results in his death. The Abbot family covers it up and deals with the consequences that follow. In the meantime, newcomer Autumn shows up and asks to stay on their land. Royal finds a mysterious hole in the ground and deals with that mystery.

The show is a very slow burn with next to little pay off. It is not worth watching the first season as you’ll be left with more questions than answers. If the show creator, Brian Watkins, wants to make multiple seasons for the show then it should have been announced at the front of the Amazon page. Had I known that, I would have altered my expectations. Everything revealed so far was foreshadowed and obvious from the get-go. All of the revelations were nothing new.

There was some philosophical pandering nonsense about God throughout the series, and lemme say, why do people associate God with all the bad things? Did they forget the devil exists? Satan is the one that brings the bad; God is good. Then there was the obligatory LGBQT+ plotline that was necessary, and to add double to the pandering to the ‘woke’ crowd, it was a lesbian Native American. Strike two issues down with one stone. It added nothing to the plot. It was a colossal waste of time learning about Sheriff Joy (Tamara Podemski), it was simply political pandering. If I wanted that, I would have watched a Netflix show.

Given my feelings aside, if you like Yellowstone mixed with science fiction then I’m sure you’d like this science fiction neo-western. If you liked Dune, then you’d enjoy this as well. Josh Brolin did a phenomenal job acting, as did Lili Taylor playing his wife, Cecilia Abbot. In fact, everyone did a great job in their roles. You really grew to dislike several characters, and love others. But given the nature of the ending, I, myself, cannot recommend this show. Though, that shouldn’t stop you from watching it and making your own opinion.

TV Shows

Moon Knight (Complete Review)

Given my episode play by play, it is painfully clear to anyone that I despised this show. This was nowhere near the hallmark that Marvel tries to hold itself to. It was dull, and pandering to the ‘woke’ and ‘diverse’ crowd. It was far too cowardly to try and tell a meaningful story. Instead it relied on tired old tropes, and hoping that people’s minds have forgotten previous movies. It tried to rely on big names in acting to draw in viewers. Oscar Isaac is the star of the show, and his acting chops put everyone to shame. Ethan Hawke was clearly just there to be remembered in posterity that he was in a Marvel production.

The story, and credits of each episode, excruciatingly teased viewers with a third persona but refused, adamantly, to show it until the very end. Until the last 30 seconds. Instead it tried its hardest to focus on just two personas of Moon Knight: Marc Spector and Steven Grant. Even then, they took the coward’s way out and switched comic Steven Grant for a new version. Perhaps they feared the comparisons to Batman, or any other rich superhero. As a result, everything suffered. Even the fight scenes were paltry, and anytime something cool could have happened, they turned it into a blackout scene. Like when Game of Thrones had to save money, and they showed the after-effects of a battle. I know Marvel has the money to spare, so this was a creative cop-out.

There were far too many writing bumbles that disconnected the viewer from immersion. Such as Steven’s inability to look at the time despite suffering life-long blackouts, to how Marc had a brother, or using mummification as a way to try and laughably introduce horror into the MCU. Then there’s manipulating the entire sky and not having every single superhero on the planet at high alert. Or killing countless disciples and followers of the lead antagonist, Harrow, and then being unwilling to kill him as well. Then the pandering to the ‘woke’ crowd and having the God’s chamber be a ‘safe space to talk’. Incredibly laughable.

The show at its best is a misfire and a great vehicle to show off Oscar Isaac’s talent, and at its worst, is pure political agenda at play. Gotta have an inclusion of “The MCU’s first Egyptian/Arab superhero” and we must have an evil, older, white man as the main antagonist. Our love interest must be able to fend for herself and show herself just as capable as her male counterparts; even though, the bad guys will suddenly lose their intellect and shoot directly at the parts where she’s armored. She’s only capable because suddenly every bad guy is highly incompetent yet when dealing with Moon Knight, they are a force to be reckoned with requiring his total mastery between Marc and Steven.

Congrats Marvel, once again y’all have dressed up a shiny turd of mediocre writing with shiny production value and dubious CGI. Let’s hope Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness doesn’t suffer from the same problems.

TV Shows

Moon Knight (ongoing)

Episode Six

Wow, I was right on the money. Creator and lead writer Jeremy Slater doesn’t have the heart or courage to tell a complete story. What a total cop-out of an ending. CGI fest of shitty fight sequences, a near rip off of Wonder Woman 1984’s costume, and the classic trope of “I literally just killed 20+ people but no, I won’t kill the lead bad guy. That’s evil!” Message received Jeremy. Egyptian people’s lives are worthless compared to an older white dude. Oh, but wait random internet critic, there’s a scene after the credits rectifying that! See, I am creative!

We have our first Egyptian superhero! So badass that she can stop bullets, and that her enemies are so braindead that they shoot their AKs point-blank at her wings instead of you know, her legs. See? Jake did make an appearance but only after I once again, director included, chickened out from actually showing his fight scene. Everyone loves getting blue-balled, especially twice.

The real winner here is Ethan Hawke. Man had to do the bare minimum, just walk around and say some lines, and bam, made millions. Oscar Isaac and May Calamawy at least had to actually put some effort into acting to get their paychecks.

You’d think after the abysmal writing that was Fantastic Four, and Umbrella Academy, and Death Note, that people would stop throwing money at hacks but clearly somebody at Marvel enjoys having subpar quality when it comes to their TV shows. No agenda at play here, nope. Russian superhero in Black Widow? Yea, let’s tarnish that so Russian kids don’t have anyone to look up to. But Egyptian superhero? Yea, we’ll make her badass, brave and able to take care of her own shit. Please ignore that we tried to copy WW1984.

Episode Five

Oh hey, I was right. Grade 4 storytelling continues. Oscar Isaac keeps giving one of his best performances. Ethan Hawke is underutilized. Clear example of “we paying for your name on our posters”.

Yea, the ending was satisfying. I have stated several times, I do not like the rendition that they went with for the character of Steven Grant. It feels like they either were too cowardly to make comic book Steven, or too scared of it being too similar to Batman and other rich heroes. Either way, this version of Steven is horrendous.

The episode only showed the creation of Steven, and with how much there is left to resolve, it appears that this show will follow the standard of Marvel. That is, to make a CGI fest for an ending because they didn’t have the heart or courage to tell a complete story. And so the final episode will most likely be a rushed hodge-podge. Wandavision also suffered the same fate. 4-5 episodes of somewhat unique and above average storytelling that unraveled in the final episode because… Who knows?

Episode Four

My favorite moment was at 11:56 because their rendition of Steven Grant is still terrible. Most enjoyable scene so far, followed closely by the next bit as he falls down into the hole. The horror reminded me of my grade 4-6 short stories where I read up on ancient Egyptians, and thought how best to gross out my classmates. Mummification, and taking out the organs into urns worked best. They were always grossed out.

Oscar Isaac is doing his best, and so is May Calamawy as Egyptian Tomb Raider. Even got neglected by a father who is a renowned archeologist that happened to disappear/get murdered under mysterious circumstances. She’s badass, and can take care of herself. Never fear when mummies get her, she’ll Brendan Fraser them on her own.

And that ending is a nice bit to the whole being judged by your memories for the afterlife. Except there’s multiple versions of you because of DID. I expect he’ll reach that hall of the Gods again and do what needs to be done. Only two episodes left to find out.

Episode Three

Yup, the more I watch, the more episode one feels like a huge waste of time and character development. Should have cut all the Steven Grant stuff out, that character is a terrible adaptation from the comics. I actually would have preferred the insane millionaire over broke whiny Steven that disjoints the action. Anyways, this third episode featured the late Gaspard Ulliel who was unfortunately under-utilized here.

There was a very cool scene towards with the manipulation of the night sky but such an event would have global consequences, and would surely reach the eyes and ears of every other superhero. I fully expect them to show up next episode otherwise we gotta confirm that the writer, is once again, an idiot that doesn’t think about such things. Painfully going in on that Tropic Thunder quote.

Fight scenes were plain laughable after watching Russian Raid. This is tier B movie fighting, not a Marvel production.

Episode Two

Pretty much disliked it until the last 13 minutes when Steven finally got rid of, and the character that I actually care about, Marc Spector, finally came to play. I learned online that the one scene that I absolutely hated in the first episode was actually the fault of the director. Goes to show that the executives do know their stuff. If that scene was cut, the whole mood would change. I wouldn’t see him as an inept mongoloid but rather a man facing a crisis of the mind. Where’s Kevin Feige when you need him.

What was up with that Mandarin spoken by Ethan Hawke? Was the point that he only pretends to care about learning languages because that was some next level butchering… well according to online forums, that is. When the suit came out, a small sliver of what could be shone bright. Maybe the last two episodes will be good.

Episode One

To quote a favorite comedy, Tropic Thunder, “Everyone knows you never go full retard.” Clearly Oscar Isaac, lead role of the show, and Jeremy Slater, writer and creator, never got that message. Seeing Oscar Isaac stumbling about, mumbling his words gives the opposite effect than they intended: his performance infuriates rather than giving the air of a man troubled in his mind by supposed delusions, and hallucinations. His accent is downright atrocious and laughable – stop saying random British sayings, yes, please say ‘innit’ some more. It’s not his fault though, he can only work with what he’s given. Too bad all Jeremy Slater can ever give is shiny golden turds (Fantastic Four, Death Note, The Umbrella Academy). Newsflash, if I was waking up from blackouts, the FIRST thing I’d do is check my phone for the time and date. The fact the character didn’t do that once until after a blunder on his part, was insulting to the audience.

40 minutes of my life wasted on useless filler. Only the opening two minutes establishing the villain and the final two minutes establishing our actual hero were worthwhile. Everything else was an exercise in terrible writing, piss-poor decisions and a character creating every single problem that befalls him. Moon Knight would be better portrayed in a movie.

Maybe the next five episodes can improve, but it seems to be following the Marvel TV formula of incredibly mediocre writing masked by shiny production values and effects. Time will tell.

TV Shows

Halo (Ongoing)

Will post updates at the top as episodes come in.

Episode Nine

Well that was quite the emotionally satisfying finale! The story of Makee and John was short lived, and tragic in so many ways. Some don’t ever heal from the wounds of the past, and the indoctrinations of their future. This timeline’s John 117 was lucky enough to let go of both, and became the unstoppable Master Chief from the games. But now, I’ve formed a deep connection with the soul inside the shell and I wish to see it return.

The action was middling because the guns for his allies had seemingly infinite ammo while yet again Chief is switching it up. Hopefully this improves for the second season. And yea, finally I had the reaction of “please, you are in unknown space with your ship, them helmets should be on at all times.” Yet, I wouldn’t get to experience the actors and actresses’ faces as they delight in the possibility of the spectacle unfolding. So, I’m willing to forgive that detail.

The soundtrack was soaring, epic, and right on cue for the emotional bits. The CGI certainly improved in certain spots such as the prophets. Speaking of, reading people complain that they would never bow to a human… Oh wow, look, it’s as if the villains are capable of having long-standing plans to achieve their goals.

Overall, it was good ending to the first season. Characters are developed, heroes are defined, anti-heroes and villains as well. Worldbuilding has been established, hints have been dropped for more potential places. And the story now has a new jumping point: the possible location of the Halo ring.

Episode Eight

Could you imagine hating a TV show because the main character, god forbid, kissed someone? And then had sex? Wow, way to announce to the entire world that you, as a critic, are a sexless, virgin. Oh no, your science fiction character gets more action than you? Time to draw the line, this is a bad show! If this is what drew the line for you, then you haven’t been paying attention to the very show you’ve been hired to critique!

Imagine you’ve had no emotions your entire life, and, for the first time ever, are experiencing the chemical imbalance known as lust and love. Imagine you’ve been chemically castrated by the government, by those you live to serve. Imagine you’ve realized you’ve been indoctrinated for years and years. Imagine you now found someone who has gone through much the same experience, albeit for the enemy. The other individual knows what it’s like to be special, and in that, you find a solace together. God forbid, your show has character development.

Imagine you’ve been raised by the so called enemy and they’ve shown you more compassion than any human has. You’ve been indoctrinated for years and years to be the savior of that so called enemy, the covenant. You’ve been tasked now to infiltrate and earn the enemy’s trust. You’re a honey pot. And your target just so happens to be experiencing emotions for the first time since being chemically castrated. You achieve your goals and in that moment, experience the magic of sex for the first time. The influx of emotions you now feel are greater than the indoctrination forced upon you. You truly connect with the person beside you. (If only someone would connect with the maiden-less critics, then maybe they’d possess the knowledge to understand this episode).

And then, just as you’ve formed a connection with this other person, you learn that the masters of humans are just as bad as the aliens that have indoctrinated you. They both seek the same goal: to be as gods.

Spoiler Shoutout to a Certain Critic

The critic over at Forbes is a special, maiden-less breed who wrote “So in conclusion, Master Chief is about to cause the Fall of Reach by having sex with a Covenant spy.” All I can politely say, is, did you actually watch the show you are paid to review?

I don’t get paid, but I actually watched the show.

Because if you did, as you claim, then you’d know that his act of sex had little impact on the fall of Reach. Catherine and her hubris is what contributed. Catherine and her special projects, Catherine and her ‘killing of communications’. Or perhaps Makee getting tortured once again causing her to experience a traumatic flashback to getting tortured by humans as a child. All Master Chief aka John 117 did was show her that humans can love, can care, can change. He was the only one that tried to connect, to find hope.

Everyone else, yourself included, showed that humans are ugly. That they don’t care about a person as an individual, they don’t care to learn the intricacies of being. They merely judge and pass judgment without knowing the whole of events. Pro-tip: try actually watching the show you claim to review.

Episode Seven

This episode was a nice relieve from the focus being on Master Chief, and helped tell Kwan Ha’s story some more. She got a minor conclusion to her story by wrapping up the rebellion against Vinsher on the planet Madrigal, and setting the plot for what’s coming next.

We got a glimpse at the AI such as guilty spark from the games, in a drug induced vision. And hints that there’s some sort of technology hidden under the planet, powered by the fuel in the soil.

All in all, as usual, I’m excited for more episodes.

Episode Six

That beginning was so satisfying. It’s rare to give your masters a taste of their own medicine. The episode brought much needed answers and emotional satisfaction. I was just along for the ride, stopped thinking about the show. That ending was the cherry on top. Our first look at a halo ring. I really hope they renew this show for more seasons.

Episode Five

That episode ran the emotional gamut culminating in rage. Understandable pent up anger, and a glorious fight to behold with UNSC vs Covenant. Despite Kai never reloading, or anyone for that matter, and Chief somehow always picking up different guns instead, it was quite enjoyably to watch.

The dangling threat of John’s mental freedom is still in the wind. CGI has improvement as the show has gone on. That ending bit was a nice tease of more to come. And it was lovely to hear John call out Cortana, and those naysayers out there too, with his line about the game. I’m, as usual, excited for more.

Episode Four

Another episode depicting the tragedy that befalls individuals brainwashed by their superiors or agency oversights. That to take away somebody’s memories is to remove who they are. And to quote Soren, “There are no more heroes.” Nobody has the strength to stand up and fight for what they believe in. They’ve seen what happens to those that do, they meet death’s door. The entire episode is a slow psychological horror at both knowing our beloved characters could be wiped out by an evil mind, and that such events actually happen around the world daily. Rebellion is snuffed out, brutally and utterly, and the minds of the civilians continue to praise the heavens that their leaders walk on. If they aren’t brainwashed, then they live in fear. Time to go see the mystics and free our minds.

Episode Three

Oh look, the first medium to accurately portray Hunters and not shy away from the sheer horror of their existence! And y’all whined that it didn’t follow the lore. Anyways, the opening was pure horror for me, with needles and surgeries, but I still liked that inclusion, I felt that their world could show us anything. I half-expected to see nudity, and they delivered on that front too! Cortana was awesome, as was hearing the voice actress from the games. I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode Two

What an interesting type of programming shoved down the throats of millions. The show seems to have a self-awareness of the meaning of the word, that the government programs individuals into corrupting their morals and ethics to become slaves and thralls. But there is a stronger code inside all of us, to know when something is simply wrong. This is what Master Chief is representing. That dull ache at the back of your mind that’s sickened by everything those in power ask of you, except he is the fantasy made real, the one that acts. He takes action. And through him, we get our vicarious victory against the powers that be. Yet therein lies the trap. We get pacified, and our ability to act for real gets further diminished in our minds. We continue to be complacent. For all that Halo is worth, and for all that antigovernmental sentiment, it is still a tool against us. With all that in mind, there’s a chance individuals might be inspired to be better. To do better. To know that some commands are wrong and should never be carried out. That being said, episode two is off to a great start.

No action to be found in this episode. Lots of worldbuilding, always enjoyable. Soundtrack is one of those I’ll be listening to outside of the show. I love the sound work overall, the thumps of the armor as they walk, the clank and rumbling of the train cart through space.

Showing John’s upbringing was a lovely touch, as was making our point of view into the UNSC’s raising of the Spartans as negative. Immediately you can tell that John is indeed a victim, as is his friend, Soren.

Overall, I liked this episode as well.

Minor Spoilers

That closing arc of going willingly back into the fold knowing that you may be destroyed in doing so is poetic and yet, I feel a pang of worry for our hero. That he’ll be brainwashed, and overrode, reduced to being the faceless mask of the video games. It’s a nice change to actually worry for the protagonist instead of knowing everything will be okay due to plot armor (like Marvel’s most recent outing, Moon Knight).

Episode One

Around 40 minutes in, I suddenly understood all the middling reviews. The parallels to current governments is strongly on the nose. Yes, the government would kill you, distort your message, and lie to the general public all to keep the black gold flowing into their pockets. You cannot interfere when they decide to ravage the landscape and local populace for natural and heavy minerals. Rio Tinto knows this well.

Halo as a show is off to a great start. It’s jam-packed with goodies such as the radar from the games, and the ammo counts, to the sound of a shield recharging. There’s even a Mass Effect reference at 34 minutes. We get to see all the old favorites besides Master Chief, like Dr. Halsey and Commander Keyes and his daughter, Miranda Keyes. With all that aside, and watching it with no expectations nor preconceptions, or comparisons to the source material, I am thoroughly enjoying the show. In fact, I didn’t want the first episode to end; I want all the episodes now.

I like that they went with their own reality for the show, it gives creative freedom. It’s not like the games brought anything new to the genre besides the Spartans and their suits. Larry Niven’s Ringworld series would like a word. Aliens attacking humanity ain’t exactly fresh. The graphics for the aliens in the show could use a bit of a touch-up as the feeling of CGI and fakeness was too strong, perhaps a different technology or method could have been used? I enjoyed how they introduced the Spartans to us with the idea that they are cold and unfeeling killing machines. To the people trying to survive without being robbed blind by the UNSC and their black gold demands, the Spartans are essentially boogeyman. The government’s own special hit squad, and you’d be na├»ve to think they don’t have that in our present times.

And now the face reveal! I dig it, and it fits the storyline! Did people not understand that? If you’re raised your whole life with the notion that this Spartan is a killing machine. Unfeeling. Alien to you. The boogeyman. And then you see that it is all together too human? You start to realize things, the gears in your head start to spin. You, who have been raised to question things, will now question this. What happened to him? Who did this and why? You empathize with him. He is no longer this unfeeling thing, but a thing that feels and understands you. And it wants to help you. Now that goes against everything you’ve known, and you want to see where it goes because the alternative is death. Moving on, Pablo Schreiber is excellent and I love seeing his performances.

The opening sequence was another aspect I liked, as it shows the surgical scars on John’s body, and then the cool animation of the armor being sculpted onto his body as if by nanites or something. I liked that the girl was Korean, and the commander lady in charge is Indian as it helps establish credence that the UNSC really is a worldly organization, that humanity has truly spread themselves out amongst the stars.

I loved where the end of the episode went. It gave Master Chief agency over his life, and set him onto his own path. He’s breaking free of the chains set upon him by his corrupt masters – and that message we simply cannot have in today’s day and age.

Overall, I highly recommend it. Once again, I love seeing more science fiction shows pop up. I think that if you watched it without comparison to the grail games on high thrones, you’ll find it enjoyable. And if you are not one of those, and you like sci-fi, you’ll like it.

Random Thoughts

I had read several user reviews in addition to the official critics, and I disagree that this version of Master Chief is a perversion of the character. If anything, this version is the best depiction because he’s finally his own character. In the games, he’s always been nothing but a puppet, slave to Cortana or the UNSC, even to the player. By not giving him a face, the player can imagine themselves as the Chief, and roleplay that way. He’s a great poster boy for militaries around the world – does horrific shit, never questions orders, never rebels. A perfect killing machine. Now I could be totally wrong by later episodes, but it seems to me that he’s realizing to the extent that he’s been manipulated by his superiors and is starting to rebel. He’s starting to think for himself. And that is an imagined world I wish to see more of.

TV Shows

Peacemaker

There’s a scene early on where our titular character sits down at a bar, next to his attractive co-worker, and she tells him off for being a racist, murderous, piece of shit. He looks taken aback, and reflects on it.

Given my opinion on The Suicide Squad, I just know that Gunn wrote this scene and parts of Peacemaker’s overall story as a means of calling out his haters. It sets the tone for the whole adventure. To me, it says, “I know some of you hate this character, but let me show you why I don’t.” And I have to give credit where credit is due. Peacemaker is a good TV show albeit not without minor nitpicking – not everyone’s acting was stellar, more on that later. I promised my friends I’d do my best, and separate the artist from the art. Like the greats, Roman Polanski, and others. I’d watch, setting my bias aside.

First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed John Cena as Christopher ‘Chris’ Smith aka Peacemaker. I watched a bloopers compilation of the show, and at one point Cena replies back to a joke about great actors that he shouldn’t be included. The man sure is humble as his comedy is on point in every scene. In fact, without him, the show wouldn’t nearly have same effect however strong the writing is. He carried the leading role well, and I want to see him in more leading roles rather than supporting. Chukwudi Iwuji was quite good. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing him beforehand. I enjoyed his performance and look forward to seeing more of him.

Now my nitpicking. Jennifer Holland, who keeps hiring her? Still as wooden as the day I saw her all those years ago in Zombie Strippers. She’d pull me out of immersion each time I saw her. And then we have the token character of the somewhat sassy, fat, black woman played by Danielle Brooks (wonderful performance). To Gunn’s credit, despite having to use that trope, it was delightfully done and self aware. I found myself wondering where was this tasteful and smart dialogue, and interaction in the previous movie. And it wasn’t just her, many characters would do something frustrating or idiotic, and the audience would get that feeling of annoyance and then immediately be appeased by dialogue that calls it out right away. It was a rollercoaster of being knowingly played with, that I didn’t want to get off of.

Before I continue, the character of Vigilante was interesting. It is a peculiar choice to make a psychopath the comic relief. It really makes a statement all on its own. This world is so messed up, that the funniest guy is the one that’s most insane. If this was Batman, such a character is the most terrifying. That contrast is called out by Gunn, in a lovely scene between Peacemaker and his elderly neighbor on that age old argument whether Batman should kill. Self awareness of the property source seems to be occurring more and more, and that studios are allowing it, it’s setting up for an interesting time in entertainment.

I’m aware of the similarity between how Vigilante was written and to Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool. That was obviously intentional. It doesn’t detract from the character or Freddie Stroma’s performance, but a fun little call-out. In fact, I found myself thinking he stole whatever scene he was in. I found him delightfully infectious.

I want to say it was fun to watch Robert Patrick as a villain, but he’s made a career of that. This was no different. His character served only to further Peacemaker’s development, and it was obvious from the first appearance.

Overall, it is an excellent companion piece to accompany The Suicide Squad, and stands strongly on its own. John Cena is quite the comedic force to be reckoned with. James Gunn created a masterpiece for DC’s halls. I recommend this dark adventure, but I still think the character is a murderous, piece of shit.