2017 tv show wrap up

2017 tv show wrap up

poster collage of 2017 tv shows

There was a LOT of high quality TV out in 2017, I have to say I found myself sucked into several shows I never thought I would like. Netflix and Hulu are really making waves with their exclusives.

My favorite shows of 2017:

The Good Place (season 2) – picking up right where Season 1 left off, this should could have crashed and burned after revealing it’s big spoiler from last season but instead continued to bring the laughs mixed with deep thoughts. Plus, I adore everyone in the cast (any time Kristen Bell is on my TV, I am happy)

Legion – Thank goodness my friend at work told me to give this a try, it had not made it to my radar because it was on FX. But it quickly became the best Marvel tv show I have ever seen. Smart, funny, and mind-bending, I can’t wait for season 2! (plus it introduced me to the gorgeous Dan Stevens)

The Expanse (season 1-2) – another one we picked up after several friends told us about it, I’ve already raved about how this show filled the Battlestar Galactica/Firely shaped hole in my heart.

Master of None (season 2) – Aziz Ansari’s bittersweet dramedy made us laugh out loud and then tugged on our heart strings. It came out so early in the year, I don’t think it gets enough credit for being another powerful Netflix exclusive.

Blackish (seasons 1-4) – I am ashamed to say we just started watching this show this year, but we have managed to marathon our way through Hulu’s back catalog and we are all caught up and I’m already ranking it with my top ten sitcoms of all time. Poignant yet full of heart and humor, they cover some very heavy topics while making me laugh, or at least smile. Just give this show all the awards for being willing to discuss topics that no other show does and surviving 4 years! I hope the new spin-off is just as smart.

Mindhunter – This show filled the ‘Hannibal’ shaped hole in my life, which makes sense because it is based on the book that Thomas Harris used to help craft Hannibal’s character. Loosely based on the true story behind the people who figured out how to profile serial killers, they take enough literary license (the main characters are mashups of real people from the unit’s history) that you don’t quite know what is going to happen. The parallels between the agents lives and the lives of the killers makes for creepy times and deep thought about behavior and psychology. The final moment was not what I expected but I am ready for Season 2 now!

Food Wars – This was our new anime series for 2017, a hilarious, over-the-top show about a cooking school where student chefs battle it out. It makes me so HUNGRY but then I crack up because characters experience “food orgasms” when they try the cooking and their clothes fly off and it is just ridiculous. But the show is totally aware of how ridiculous it all is, so I don’t mind it. Someday I will try one of the recipes!

Broadchurch (season 3) – The final case, the final visit to this small town. Deciding to tackle a rape case was dangerous ground for the writers but I think they handled it well.

Sweetness and Lightning – This anime was adorable and I’m so sad it didn’t get a second season. It’s about a father and preschool daughter who bond over cooking meals together. The mother passed away before the show starts, so all you know it is about him trying to find a way to connect with his little girl. No romance, no crazy antics, just the two of them finding a food to try and learning the recipe together and then the little girl tasting it and being so happy her daddy made her dinner.

Dark – see previous post where I rant and freak out about this show because AAAAAAH!

The rest of the best:
Bob’s Burgers (season 8) – I still adore this show, it is always hilarious.
Son of Zorn – cancelled just when I was starting to enjoy it.
Star Wars Rebels – (season 3) need to catch up on season 4!
Konosuba – ridiculous anime set in RPG world with a total jerk/loser as the “hero”
Voltron (season 3) – keep ’em coming Netflix!
Speechless (season 2) – ❤ ❤ ❤
Lain (DVD) – creepy anime about AI that might be 20 years old but was eerily relevant!
Powerless – cancelled! Why? It was hilarious!
The Americans – coming up on the final season, this set up so many crazy issues to resolve!
American Gods – decent start to the series, not perfect but I have faith in Fuller and co.
Handmaid’s Tale – Hulu is going to give Netflix a run for their money if they keep making shows like this!
The Goldbergs (season 1-2) – Sylvia has us watching this show at dinner, it makes me so nostalgic.
Stranger Things (2) – Not as solid as the first season, but I think they have a plan
Drifters – crunchyroll anime sci-fi fantasy action
Attack on Titan – why do these seasons take so long to come out?????
Riverdale (season 2) – Season 1 was solid, season 2 is having a bit of a sophomore slump but hoping things pick up soon.
Gravity Falls (Season 1-3) – Sad I missed this show when it first aired because it was adorable and hilarious.
Steven Universe – Dammit Hulu put up ALL the episodes!
13 Reasons Why – ugh, had to watch it because it was such a big conversation starter but ugh, so heavy. Probably won’t watch the “spin offs”

And then there were these (shows I probably won’t go back to):
Series of Unfortunate Events – I wanted to love this show but every episode felt like work and ran a bit too long. Oh well.
Man in the High Castle (season 2) – yep, this show should have been a limited series, they are out of ideas and I hate every character.
Runaways – stopped after 3 episodes, #NotMyRunaways – I don’t hear BKV’s voice at all.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – I tried to like this and I watched the first season but just didn’t feel compelled to keep going.

Rewatches:
Buffy (season 1-4)
Angel (season 1)
Riverdale (season 1)

movie thoughts: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – part 1 of ???

movie thoughts: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – part 1 of ???

I began typing up my reaction to TLJ and I couldn’t stop and now I’m up to two pages of notes in Google Docs and still have so much more to say. So rather than posting a TL;DR length ramble, I’m going to break it up into chunks. Consider this part 1 of whatever haha.

Spoilers, obviously, though this post is relatively vague compared to what is to come.

TLJthoughts1

I will start by saying that I know it was not a perfect movie – it ran a bit too long, I felt the timeline didn’t quite add up, among other things that I will mention under the cut. But overall, I loved it and the more time I have had to think about it, I really appreciate all of the stories being told.

I always say that the power of the original trilogy came from the fact that Lucas drew on classic myths and legends from cultures all over the world and the reason the prequel trilogy faltered so much was that it tried to pull from Star Wars, which wasn’t enough to sustain the story. But this new trilogy proves me wrong – if you know what you are doing, you can use Star Wars as your myth and create something that is more than the sum of those parts. The real problem with the prequels was clearly Lucas and his confusion about what made Star Wars resonate with so many people. I feel like Abrams and Johnson are far more aware because they are fans, but they also know that, to paraphrase Faulkner, you must kill your darlings.

For many of us, the original trilogy defines our childhood, with epic heroes and stories of adventure and family, both blood and found family. We still clung to these stories as we got older because of that sense of innocence around them, but we also started to realize that very rarely are these kinds of stories so clear cut, that the world is filled with shades of gray. I think the TFA trilogy taps into that more adult sensibility, and actually a reality that I feel, more and more, people are trying to instill in their children earlier on – that the world isn’t so easy to understand, that sometimes the villains have a point and the heroes act like jerks. Because we are all people, even our heroes, even our leaders, they are just people with their own flaws. This idea was presented in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ but I think most of us overlooked it, focusing more on the Father/Son story than the fact that we had a fallen hero and one who was teetering on the edge.

I think for some fans, this rubbed them the wrong way – they wanted their heroes to remain spotless. I won’t lie, when I first heard that TFA would feature the original cast, I panicked – I said it was because I didn’t want to see old versions of Luke, Leia and Han but now I’m realizing that what I didn’t want to see – didn’t want to know – was about their life after RotJ. Because anyone who had ventured into the EU books in the 90s knew that life goes on and life gets messy. Perhaps, deep down, that was my fear.

But I actually liked finding out about their lives and their mistakes. Han and Leia were together, they had some happy times. Luke tried his best to set an example as the last Jedi. Life went on, as it does – there are no happy endings because nothing ends. To think that evil could be wiped out, could be removed from the galaxy was naive. Plus, as The Last Jedi makes clear, The Force isn’t about good vs evil, but finding a balance between darkness and light – neither of which are inherently good or bad.

More specific thoughts later…

Free Riffs with Rifftrax app!

Free Riffs with Rifftrax app!

I LOVE Rifftrax – I mean, I was a fan of MST3K back in the day, so it only makes sense that my love transferred over when these guys started to make fun of modern movies and more.

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Right now, they are giving away 4 free Riffs if you download their new and improved app. The Riffs are “just the jokes” but with the new app, you can turn on the movie and your device will hear the audio and sync up automatically! Can’t wait to test this out!

The free Riffs are for Iron Man, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Twilight: New Moon and Star Trek V. Once you’ve downloaded the app, just search for each title and hit “download” to make it yours. They say “free” in the corner.

I can tell you from experience these are perfect for gatherings with friends (especially if adult beverages are involved) or when you’re home sick and need to laugh between the coughing. Or when you just need a good laugh (and dont’ we all?)

Grab the app and the movie Riffs before they change their mind!

video game thoughts: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)

video game thoughts: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)

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I cannot stop thinking about this game. I flew through the 8 hours of gameplay time (well, it took me more than that because I am a very cautious fighter LOL) and I miss Senua already.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the story of a warrior woman whose lover was murdered by invading Norsemen and she has decided to go into hell to free his soul.

But Senua is not a normal woman – she hears voices. Her mother heard them too. They whisper to her, constant companions since she was young. These voices have kept her separated from the rest of her tribe, which is why she wants so badly to find Dillion’s soul – he was the one person who truly cared for her. I know this sounds cliche, but I have to say that love is the one force out there that will make people challenge gods, even if those gods are not their own.

I love how the game just drops you into the story – no tutorial mode, not even a flash of instruction on the screen to coach you. You must figure it out (even if that simply means hitting “pause” to bring up the control menu) – the game designers have faith in your abilities to play from the start and they don’t want to pull you out of the narrative to go through some clunky “What does the A button do?” screen or cheesy flashback to find an excuse to learn how to make your character walk.

I really feel like this game is another great example of video games as art. I feel like to show how a thing is art, you must give examples of how it brings out emotions in us that no other format can; how it can tell a story that would not be nearly as powerful as just a printed page or even as a moving image.

I played Hellblade as the creator’s suggested: with headphones on. This let me experience the voices the way Senua did – hearing them immediately as our shared quest began and growing both frustrated and fond of their chatter. I don’t think the printed text of a novel could have done this for me and while I can be emotionally connected to a character in a movie or tv show, you can’t become them the way you can in a video game. And while I don’t think I was ever Senua, I felt like I was with her the whole way.

I know this game is already getting a lot of push back from people with mental illness. Ninja Theory, the game design company, did a lot of homework in trying to represent the different ways psychosis can feel. I’ve seen at least one reviewer who are not happy because they suffer from mental illness and didn’t think the game represented them, and I can understand that. The designers could only do so much and they reached out to professionals and got as much feedback as possible but they can’t know what it is like for someone and no game will really ever replicated that experience.

I am coming from a completely different place, and this game really made me think a lot about all of the voices in everyone’s head and how some of us can shrug them off and others are forced to hear them. The voices of self doubt, of fear, of resignation beside the voices that also push you on. I’ve never suffered from psychosis and I can’t even begin to understand what life would be like for someone living with it, but for those 8 hours, I had those voices in my ears and it made me think of how hard that can make everything – if I was struggling in a fictional world to run forward and stay focused, what must it be like for someone in modern society? No idea, I know I can never know.

While I didn’t love the ending (too soon, I wanted more), I loved the game as a whole. I really enjoyed that it was more than just a button mashing fighter game and that the (thankfully few) boss fights all had strategies to them. It reminded me of Legend of Zelda and how each “boss” was more than just a simple fight, you had to pay attention. There were just as many puzzles and hidden things to make me want to keep going, and bits of Norse legend peppered through-out which made me want to go find Neil Gaiman’s new book and see if there were more to those legends.

It was a beautiful game, I loved seeing it on my screen, watching Senua wander the mystical world. I really hope we have more adventures with her.

For more details about the game and how to buy a (digital only for PC and PS4), visit the official Ninja Theory site.

What to Watch: The Expanse (SyFy)

What to Watch: The Expanse (SyFy)

If you are like me, for the last 15 years (omg has it been that long?) you have had a sci-fi TV shaped hole in your viewing heart left there by the early cancellation of Firefly and (a few years later) the epic conclusion of Battlestar Galactica. I finally found a show to fill that spot in my heart and it is The Expanse.

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We’ve got our rag tag crew on the run, a grizzled cop looking for a mysterious woman, backstabbing politicians, and scientists playing god. And, bonus points, some kick-ass women in charge! Something for everyone!

Season 1 is currently streaming as part of Amazon Prime. I felt that Season 1 took awhile to find its footing, but do not give up. Think back to the first time reading/watching The Fellowship of the Ring and being introduced to so many new characters and realms and the rules that guide them – that is what slows down the first season. You have to learn about Earth and Mars and the Belters and their history. You have to understand the OPA and their agenda. And, of course, you must meet our would-be heroes and learn about their stories so you know it is okay to root for them.

But it is ALL worth it because when season 2 starts, there is nothing to hold the writers back. (Season 2 was just released on blu-ray/DVD; I managed to borrow a copy from my local library). The second season hits the ground running and never looks back so you better have paid attention during Season 1 (or be ready to rewatch it) because there is not time to stop and explain, the entire galaxy is on the line!

The show is based on a series of Science Fiction novels, tomes that same size as George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, so there are plenty of characters and stories to choose from. While I haven’t read the books yet, talking to fans who have it sounds like the show writers are doing a great job blending together multiple story lines and introducing characters in a way that works better for a television show but stays true to the books.

I am excited to watch Season 3 in real time when it returns in 2018 so I can react to episodes and discuss the show with other fans. Until then, do yourself a favor and get your sci-fi geek on over the next few months (though I would say PACE YOURSELF because that Season 2 finale will leave you wanting more).

http://www.syfy.com/theexpanseThe Expanse – SyFy Official Website (careful of spoilers!)- Season 3 episodes will be available to stream after they begin to air. Currently only has the last few episodes of Season 2 available.

https://www.amazon.com/The-Expanse-Season-1/dp/B018BZ3UWUThe Expanse on Amazon Video – Prime Members can stream the first season for FREE

Season 2 is available on Blu-Ray/DVD so you can pick that up on Amazon as well or stop by your local public library!

Happy Towel Day, you hoopy froods!

It’s not understatement when I say I owe my love of reading to Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

My (much loved) first copy of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

In 7th grade, I was burnt out on assigned reading in school. Too many depressing stories with kids, parents and/or dogs dying or old language that I didn’t really enjoy reading. I can’t remember the context of the conversation, but my Mom and I were downstairs working on the computer. We had a bookshelf of their old books behind the door and I assumed that since they were my parent’s books, they were boring. I had seen the book on the shelf and assumed it was some kind of astronomy guide.

But then my Mom made some crack about “42” and when I gave her a blank stare, she grabbed the book off the shelf and told me I should read it, that it was a really funny book. So while she clicked away at the computer (probably helping me type up a paper since, at 13, my typing was still painfully slow) I flipped through the first few pages and instantly fell in love.

The Guide became a huge part of my life from then on. I read the first book and was overjoyed to find out there were four more in the series. I got them all from the library and found myself crying as I finished up the last page of Mostly Harmless. I moved on to the ‘Dirk Gently’ series and listened to the audiobook of ‘Long Dark Teatime of the Soul’ on repeat all summer.

I found old creative writing papers from later on that year and Ford Prefect made several appearances (I’m guessing my English teacher wasn’t familiar with the book since they never called me out on what was essentially fanfic). The book became a litmus test for which friends really got me. When I began working at the library a few years later, any time someone donated a copy of a Douglas Adams book, I would take it home with me (somewhere in my parent’s house is a big box of Guides I need to reclaim and redistribute). By some weird twist of fate, PBS ran the miniseries that summer and I recorded it to VHS then, like the uberfan I was, I transferred the audio over to cassette so I could listen to it and memorize it all.

To top off the nerdiness of all of this, when I won a chance to meet Dave Matthews before a concert I bought a copy of the book and GAVE IT TO HIM as a gift. I mean, it is the best book and everyone should have a copy, so I was just looking out for him but still, what a dork!

Now the book is on the assigned reading list for schools in my area which kind of makes me sad. I liked it being a cult classic to be discovered. I liked giving it to kids who thought that reading for fun wasn’t a thing. I feel like making any book homework is the kiss of death for enjoyment. Plus, I know the humor isn’t for everyone, you have to have that very dry British wit.

Anyway, I am exciting to wear my towel today, to see how many hoopy froods come into the library and get it. Have a wonderful day and remember – don’t panic!

Books Read in March

Here’s what I read in March. Not as impressive as February but still some good stuff in the mix!

The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and GuestsThe Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests by Chris Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read half of this and then listened to the rest. I was a little disappointed the audiobook wasn’t narrated by anyone from the show but that would be pretty amazing to get that cast back together. That being said, the readers did a wonderful job mimicking the voices and tone where they could without it being too distracting.

I was watching the Daily Show with Craig Kilborn in high school and I remember when it changed hands to Jon Stewart. I have always been relatively progressive/liberal in my world view, so I wouldn’t say that Jon changed that, but The Daily Show did let me know that I was not alone in thinking that way, it made me want to stay up to date on the news, it made me understand how politics really work.

The show, Stewart’s version of the show, played a HUGE role in my young adult life and this book does an amazing job covering its evolution over the course of 12 years. If you are a fan of the show, if you remember watching it every night, if you attended the ‘Rally for Sanity’ — pick up this book or give it a listen. You will be impressed by how much hard work this entire cast and crew put into keeping us both informed and entertained all these years, and how that ended up changing the media as a whole.

MooseMoose by Max de Radiguès
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because we were discussing how it made it onto lots of top comic lists for teen readers but we cataloged it in adult. I understand the cataloging since our YA section is both a mix of middle and high school materials and this definitely is very mature content.

The story deals with bullying, and not just being picked on, but physical violence and a level of abuse that was disturbing.

I think it is a powerful story that will find its way into the hands of readers that need to find it, but I can understand why we opted to put it in the adult collection.

Me and Marvin GardensMe and Marvin Gardens by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A.S. King is one of my favorite young adult authors so I was surprised to see this title cataloged as Children’s Fiction. It still has that trademark King bit of magical realism, but the characters and themes run a little bit younger, or maybe just things that work for a wider age range of readers.

While not my favorite King book, this has a great story to give to kids who have a passion about the environment and interest in humans finding that balance between nature and progress. Definitely for the more thinky middle school reader who has already realized that their parents are not perfect and that the world has shades of gray.

Paper Girls, Vol. 2Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even better than the first volume (I did not think that would be possible). This series is amazing.

Don’t read anything about it, don’t find spoilers, just find the books and read them.

Samanthasaurus RexSamanthasaurus Rex by B.B. Mandell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How could I not read this? Adorable dinosaur with my name. The trick with the diamond seemed like a stretch. If there is a Samantha in your life, this is a solid purchase.

I Am Jim HensonI Am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sweet and simple book, this would be great for a read-aloud to older elementary kids. The author does not mention that Jim has passed away, though kids can see it if they look at the timeline included on the last couple pages.

One of my personal heroes and I’m always glad to see his story being told and shared.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice MovementThey Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think Lowery does a good job of staying objective in his recounting of the tumult of the last few years. I knew about most of these events, but not all of them, and lumping them all together in this book, realizing that this is just a snapshot of two years in America, you can’t help but wonder what, if anything, has changed.

The saddest part is how optimistic the afterward sounds when it comes to continuing to deal with these issues as a country…I feel like this has all be pushed out of the spotlight since November and the national rhetoric is not one that encourages discussion of racial issues.

The Private EyeThe Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is becoming VERY DISTURBING that every book I pick up this year has some kind of “THE CLOUD WILL END US ALL!” message to it…and Private Eye wasn’t even a NEW book!

BKV does it again with a twisted story about a not-to-distant future where the world has gone to shit and, as usual, most people just deal with it. Loved the characters and their hints of backstory. I’m kind of glad this is a one-off, that the little teases are all we get and we have to make it up from there. The main story is enough to satisfy.

Sci-Fi Noir Action Thriller Graphic Novel.

Decelerate BlueDecelerate Blue by Adam Rapp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another commentary on our short-attention span world. I liked the ideas here but I wish it had a little more to it all. I never felt like I got to know Angela and Gladys as well as I could have.

Still, some cool themes and ideas to talk about.

View all my reviews