June 2017

My June has been pretty uneventful but filled with some great TV viewing.

To start, I watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3. I loved 30 Rock, it was smart, very funny and filled with likeable characters. There was however a turning point though, about halfway through 30 Rock, some of the characters became annoying. The same thing has happened to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The show is still pretty smart, even when its jokes are a little childish. A large sum of the jokes simply don’t land though, because the characters saying them have become grating and annoying. Titus, in particular is a problem for the show. Every time he’s on screen or when he speaks, the quality of the show drops. His performance however is fine, I can’t fault his acting that much, just his material and characteristics.

Another Netflix show I watched was Orange is the New Black season 5. As far as I’m concerned, OITNB is one of the greatest shows ever made. It’s filled with likeable characters, great storylines and it balances comedy and drama really well. What I really liked about this season is that it reminds everyone that the main characters are criminals. They’re not all bad people, but they’ve done bad things. This results in a darker, more uncomfortable tone to this season that hasn’t really been seen since the opening of season 1. Season 5 isn’t the best season, but it’s a worthy entry that improves throughout its run and I can’t wait for the next season.

Jumping from Netflix to Amazon Video, I watched Bosch season 1. It’s fine, nothing special. It’s a pretty generic detective, crime drama that then fails to come to a satisfying conclusion. I did continue into season 2 and I can say that it’s improving.

I also watched the first season of American Gods. This is an unusual show. It’s a show that presents many questions but few answers. It’s a show that  oozes style and weirdness. Not always in a good way. Like the previous show the creative team did (Hannibal), American Gods is often weird and mysterious for the hell of it. Yes, it’s pretty and fascinating, but it’s unnecessary.

The highlight of the show is the supporting cast, particularly Ian McShane. They steal the show. The lead character is a little dull, but he’s supposed to be the ‘normal’ person, so it’s acceptable. American Gods is at its best when it actually provides explanation, which isn’t all that often.

Moving from TV and into films, I want to talk about the upcoming Han Solo film. It lost its directors. Lord and Miller, who directed the 21 Jump Street films as well as The Lego Movie were fired. There are mixed reports and rumours but it looks like lead actor Alden Ehrenreich was concerned about the film becoming too much of a comedy. He then told producer, Kathleen Kennedy who looked over the footage and agreed. There’s also reports that Lord and Miller clashed with Lawrence Kasdan (the screenwriter) about their style and approach.

The bottom line is that they’re out and Ron Howard is now directing it. While I like Lord and Miller, they always seemed like an odd choice of director to me. I don’t want to see a Star Wars comedy film, I especially don’t want them to potentially damage the character of Han Solo by making him a comedian. If the reports and rumours are true, I’m kind of glad they’re gone. 

As for Ron Howard. I like him. He’s done some good films, but some less than good films too. He’s a good but safe choice to direct the film and I’m confident that he’ll do a good job here. He was asked to direct The Phantom Menace but he refused, so it’s not the first time he’s been linked with the Star Wars franchise either.

Sticking with Star Wars, I read the newest novel, Star Wars: Rebel Rising. It’s a little disappointing. It doesn’t add a great deal to the franchise and it doesn’t add much to Jyn Erso that we either didn’t know or couldn’t have imagined. The book has Jyn basically doing the same thing over and over again. It chronicles her teenage years under Saw Gerrera, where she learnt her skills and then she leaves and is basically just trying to survive. There’s little momentum, little revelation and little worth talking about.

Finally I want to talk about Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier. I reviewed the first two episodes when they came out and now that the season is over, I want to share my thoughts fully.

I liked the initial episodes. They were a welcome return to this series. Then things gone a bit bland and disappointing. Unlike previous Telltale games, I felt like I was being forced into certain storylines and scenarios. For example, I was desperately trying not to romance a particular character, but despite my attempts it happened anyway. 

Luckily, the final episode wraps things up in a somewhat satisfying way. It finishes character stories fairly well and it’s pretty dramatic. My only concern is that Clementine, my favourite character, kind of just vanished for large chunks of my game because of choices I made. Had I known this would’ve happened, I would’ve played it very differently and I think my experience would’ve been much better.


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