Category Archives: Review

‘Dramaworld’: A Little Hidden Gem to Binge-Watch In A Day

Being a daydreamer is part of a fangirl’s DNA. We’re conditioned to get lost in our fictional worlds even after the episode ends, we finish the book or we finish watching the movie. Those characters belong in our brains now and have taken a seat, ready to be put in whatever situations we want them to. Many tend to put those thoughts into fanfic, others into fanart, others write meta posts about them and some simply prefer to randomly daydream about what would happen if their favorite characters met differently or what would they do in different situations. A fangirl’s brain is rich, complicated and imaginative, so of course the thought “what would happen if I was a character in this fictional work?” has gone through many minds.

There is a stigma against self-insert fanfic, even within the fan community. It is usually considered self-indulgent, bad and generally gross. But the truth is so much of the fiction we consume is based on self-insert stories we probably wouldn’t watch anything if that was where we drew the line. The difference is it’s usually men writing that fiction. Many of them get published, some of them are written as movies in which the main lead happens to be the writer and somehow we consider them masterpieces and pay for them rather than enjoy them for free in the comfort of our home, as we do with fanfic.

Dramaworld however, is a self-insert fanfic by all means and although it is not written or directed by a woman, at least it never disregards the main character’s fantasizing as crazy or makes it sound gross. To Claire, the show’s heroine, self-indulging in fiction (in this case, k-drama) is a way to escape from a boring, uneventful life. And though her dad tells her to get off her phone and live in “real life” she then gets literally swept into her fantasy in order to save the world. So she is kind of being rewarded for being who she is.

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Claire Duncan (Liv Hewson, who by the way not just by hair color but by mannerisms and voice could honestly be Jane Levy’s little sister) is a 20 year-old college student absolutely obsessed with Korean dramas (or k-dramas). She spends most of her time talking about it or waiting for the next episode of her favorite show to go online. She is particularly obsessed with a show called “Taste of Love” in which Joon Park (Sean Dulake) is a handsome chef whose heart has been broken by his dad’s suicide and Seo-yeon (Noo-Ri Bae) is the adorable dishwasher turned sub-chef who is hoping to gain his love. But something wrong is happening in “Taste of Love”: unlike every other k-drama, they’re now into episode 13 and the two characters haven’t kissed. That is dangerous, since the show is coming to an end. One night, while cleaning up her dad’s sandwich shop and watching the show in her  broken smartphone she sees the worst is about to happen: Joon Park is about to kiss Ga-in (Sa Hee), his longtime childhood friend and restaurant manager, while poor Seo-yeon watches it happen from the kitchen. But kisses in k-drama are way different than in American TV. If Joon kisses Ga-in, that means she is going to be his true love. So while screaming at the screen for him not to do it (seriously, who hasn’t yelled at the screen when our favorite characters are doing something dumb?) she accidentally trips and falls and…

Continue reading ‘Dramaworld’: A Little Hidden Gem to Binge-Watch In A Day

Midseason Review: ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’

Weekly ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ reviews took a small break last week in order for me to fly over to London for a small geeky trip (no conventions this year, so I had to do something). But fear not, friends, for this is the perfect opportunity to write a review on the show as a whole up to midseason and what is working and what isn’t about season two, so far.

YAYs 

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New dynamics explored

The best part of this season so far have been the ways the characters have paired off. Seth and Kate lasted so little but gave us a lot and quickly became a fan favorite pairing (#sethandkate4everrr), but their separation didn’t mean their stories became boring. Quite the contrary, Sonja and Seth’s relationship, which seems to be going too hard, too fast, is interesting because Sonja obviously has something to hide and doesn’t stop herself from giving Seth crap and Seth seems to be throwing himself into it because it’s the most ‘normal’ he has felt in a while.

Kate found her brother Scott and even though Scott didn’t want to accept her help and flew off despite Kate’s efforts to understand him, Freddie showed up when she needed him the most. And he needed her too. Their partnership in the last episode was great, and it was nice to see Kate being valued and taken into consideration as an equal, since it took so long for Seth to actually let her work with him.

Meanwhile Scott and Carlos are in young padawan – Jedi Master territory, with Scott becoming his right hand in the setting up of his new empire of evil.  Santanico found a shadow of her former self in Paloma, a young girl she kidnapped in order to make her way to Malvado’s hideout, but who keeps reminding her of the monster she is becoming versus the girl she used to be.

All of these new dynamics are keeping the show from becoming stale and repetitive, and keeping the brothers away from each other worked out rather well, to my surprise. But of course you cannot do that for too long, and now the Gecko brothers ride again.

Continue reading Midseason Review: ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’

‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ – ‘Opening Night’ Review

And we’re back from a long summer hiatus just in time for “From Dusk Till Dawn”‘s return. If you haven’t watched Robert Rodriguez’s show, based on Tarantino’s script (and his own movie), you should really give it a shot, because it is a fun-filled, never-ending rollercoaster ride of action, gore and family stories.

The show comes back from the hiatus with a three-month jump. Richie and Santanico have taken it upon themselves to bring down the nine lords, and that starts with Malvado, the lord who imprisoned and forced her into becoming a dancer at the Titty Twister (which we find out a lot about during a flashback). During the first season I must admit I had a complicated relationship with Santanico. While I understood her need to be freed, she did manipulate Richie into killing to connect with her (RIP Monica, we hardly knew ya), and forced him and Seth into the Twister. She also didn’t quite seem to mind playing a part in Carlos’ schemes, including but not limited to feeding the counselors with other girls and bringing Kate in for her replacement (what was up with that? Will we ever find out why Carlos was so keen on having Kate, specifically, replace Santanico?) When looking at it in retrospect, she probably thought all those things were little a price to pay for her freedom (“I do what I do to survive”), which to someone who’s been enslaved for over 500 years, is probably the first priority. Santanico was a pure girl in the beginning, but she had means to an end and part of being a complex, interesting character is sometimes not doing the right things. It’s not like everyone in this show is a saint.

Continue reading ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ – ‘Opening Night’ Review

If you haven’t watched ‘Grace and Frankie’ it’s time to fix that mistake

I was unknowingly a big, fat ageist and I was not aware.

This is not the only thing I take away from “Grace and Frankie”, but it is the first one I want to get out of the way, in case your own ageism is stopping you from giving this show a shot too.

If you think your young, careless self is not going to find something fun, entertaining or relatable in “Grace and Frankie” you are dead wrong.

When I first heard about this show I was rather intrigued by the premise: two marriages of over 40 years fall apart when both husbands reveal to their wives they have been in love for over 20 years and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Then both women decide to grieve the loss of their marriages together and instead of tearing each other apart, they occupy their fabulous, shared beach house and become best friends.

But somehow, something was stopping me from watching and I didn’t know what it was: was it the fact that Miley Cyrus was the one who got it a second season? Was it the fact that legends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were getting paid the same as their male co-stars even though they ARE the two leads of the show? Was it the fact that I have barely watched any other TV shows since From Dusk Till Dawn and Bob’s Burgers and I didn’t feel like watching anything else?

No, it was the fact that I didn’t think I would relate to the story of two 70-year old women starting over.

Continue reading If you haven’t watched ‘Grace and Frankie’ it’s time to fix that mistake

I watched “Age of Ultron” and it was just OK

Age of Ultron is not the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s also not the worst, by any means (Iron Man 2 or The Incredible Hulk share that title for me).

Reviewing Marvel movies is always a tough call for me, mostly because I don’t know whether to judge them as standalone films or to see how they stand against the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let’s be honest, here, Age of Ultron was always going to have a tough time topping Captain America: The Winter Soldier (currently holding my “favorite Marvel movie” title) AND the campy, fun, colorful joy that was Guardians of the Galaxy. The stakes were raised with these two and even though Age of Ultron manages to be an entertaining, fun and generally worth watching Avengers movie, it falls short in some things other Marvel movies have excelled in, including the first Avengers.

(Author note: this is my review after a first viewing. Can things change after a second one? For sure, but I think it's fair game to write about your first impressions of a movie)

Continue reading I watched “Age of Ultron” and it was just OK

Should the Last Man on Earth die?

I wanted to like The Last Man on Earth. I really wanted to.

When I first heard about the show, I thought it was an interesting concept: a one-man show highlighting the ups and downs of finding yourself alone after the whole world’s gone to shit (pardon my French), but of course, as many people when we first heard about it, I wondered for how long that could work. The answer was right at the end of the first episode, when we found out our protagonist, who had spent two years driving around the country while putting up “Alive in Tucson” signs, talking to balls and making out with mannequins, discovers he isn’t alone in the world. There is someone else out there, and it is a woman.

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The show manages to make the second and third episodes charming by highlighting the big differences between the new character, Carol, and Phil. While Phil’s way of keeping himself “sane” was to break as many rules as possible, Carol’s way was to overcompensate by paying way too much attention to the rules. Their interactions were funny, they had a really fun rapport, and even though Phil’s reticence to Carol’s suggestion that they should marry before they start trying to repopulate the Earth was ridiculous (if marriage no longer exists as institution, what does it matter to do it for show, Phil?), we started to see the two bonding and Carol letting loose. The show was now more “the odd-couple” than the actual The Odd Couple, and it worked.

Until Melissa arrived. Continue reading Should the Last Man on Earth die?

iZombie: on surviving your inner zombie

Turns out mid-season TV is a lot about women learning how to survive after traumatic events.

If you don’t know the premise of iZombie, I’ll catch you up really fast: Olive Moore is a type-A medical student that has the perfect life: she’s good at her job, she is engaged to a wonderful man and she has the perfect family and friends.  Everything seems to be going well, until she is invited to a party where there is a small yet terrifying zombie outbreak. She wakes up the next day, scratched and in a body bag, to find out she is still alive. Except she isn’t. She is undead. She is a zombie.

Of course, this takes a bit of a toll on her. She leaves her job and in order to satisfy her brain cravings decides to start working at a morgue instead. When she is at home, she watches TV and zombie movies (for zombie research) mindlessly while eating food she cannot taste unless it’s really covered in hot sauce and of course, she breaks up her engagement in order not to infect her poor, unknowing boyfriend, which leads her family to believe she has PTSD. Continue reading iZombie: on surviving your inner zombie

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and TV with a positive message

In a time where Parks & Recreation says goodbye to us definitely, ‘Cougar Town’ is in its last season, shows like Happy Endings and Selfie disappear into the abyss and we are in abundance of CBS-style multi-cam comedies that should have been left behind a long time ago having inexplicable success (I am sorry, The Odd Couple, you aren’t even that bad, but did we really need you?) the need for feel-good comedies in our TVs grows stronger.

Many of these multi-cam comedies tend to fall into a terrible pattern: the scripts are written for the audience to laugh at the characters, instead of with them. I get it, it’s classic Schadenfreude: it’s great to have someone to watch that has it worse than you. There is something satisfying about thinking “well, my life is crap, but at least I’m not THAT guy!”, but what is the issue with watching a comedy where you can end up feeling happy for the characters? Why do we put human empathy aside when watching television? Is it better to watch the characters in The Big Bang Theory struggle with basic human interaction than to watch Leslie Knope making her wishes come true? Given the ratings difference between the two of them, to many people it is.

This is why Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comes at a perfect time, when the number of shows that make us root for the people that live in their universe is alarmingly decreasing (thank you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh Off the Boat, Bob’s Burgers and Jane The Virgin, you’re very needed). If you haven’t binge-watched this yet, you have probably been living in a bunker after being kidnapped by a pre-apocalyptic cult, have just made it out and thus you are forgiven, but please learn about what Netflix is, watch the show and then come back to read this blog post.
Continue reading Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and TV with a positive message

Weekly Review (Midweek Review II)

Welcome to our second instance of Midweekend Review, or, shall we say, Weekly Review? Quite honestly, dear readers, maybe this hasn’t been the best idea. As I was reviewing my TV show schedule, apparently 90% of the shows I watch air from Sunday to Wednesday, as made clear by the fact that there was not a “Weekend Review” post last week. The list will become even bigger when most shows return from hiatus next week. So I am thinking about switching days for these posts or naming them differently, otherwise I will suffer from another massive writer’s block, like this one. I am only getting started, and I’m learning as I go.

But for now, a look at what Galavant, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Broadchurch, the return of Parks and Recreation and Cougar Town had to offer this week!

Galavant

Galavant continues making of Richard one of the most endearing villains of all time in these two episodes, first by trying to cheer up the remaining people of Valencia (which he conquered and killed and then forgot)  and then by trying to win over Madalena, once he finds out she has been cheating on him with the jester by using said jester to help him become funnier. Of course, he fails at all of these things, and while you are constantly being reminded of all the terrible things he’s done, you kind of feel bad.  How do they do that?

Meanwhile, the golden trio’s friendship is put to a test, first by the discovery that Sid is kind of a big deal in his own town, Sidneyland (real name) where he is loved by many for being a knight (which he isn’t). Trouble is, his adoptive, white and Jewish parents hold him to high standards so to impress them, he tells them Galavant is his squire and Isabella jumps to say she is engaged to him. His family immediately welcomes Isabella but not Galavant, who has to spend his time with the rest of the squires. There he discovers that some of them hate musical numbers (WHY?) and ALL of them hate their knights. And it is through a musical number where he realizes how awful he is to Syd sometimes, promising him to be better, and encouraging him to tell his parents who he really is (he was also a little in fear of Syd spitting on his ale).

As normal when you spend too much time with someone, these three gorgeous and diverse (very diverse) people have come to find out everything they find annoying about each other.  It’s only when they are threatened by a group of land pirates (led by no other than Hugh Bonneville) who trap them and steal their jewel that they need to put their differences aside and come together to find their strengths (although Syd is tired of Galavant and Isabella making puppy eyes at each other, understandably). They do so, by helping the pirates get their stuck ship out of land with the condition that they help them get to Valencia (who knew it was so far away?)

Both episodes keep hitting the right notes (see what I did there?). The problem here is some jokes still fall flat (like all the ball jokes in the first episode) but the music and the hilarious character dynamics make up for it. Galavant is very meta (characters can even sense musical numbers coming!) and it seems hyper-aware of its highs and lows (as the second episode proves, when the jester tries to teach Richard comedy) and it’s the fact that it does that makes it such a fun show.

Continue reading Weekly Review (Midweek Review II)

Midweek Review

When you watch as many TV shows as I currently do, reviewing each and one of them is hard. Having said this, I wouldn’t be me without having a lot of opinions. That is the reason why I’ve created TWO new sections for the blog: Midweek Review, posted on Thursday for shows airing Sunday to Wednesday and Weekend Review, for shows airing from Thursday to Saturday and posted on Sunday. This way I will be able to cover more shows, with shorter reviews that go straight to the point.

If at any point an episode is so good – or so bad – that a whole review is necessary, it will simply get its own post.

And without further ado, here is your first “Midweek Review”, featuring: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, ‘Galavant’, ‘Sleepy Hollow’, ‘Broadchurch’ and ‘Cougar Town’.

Agent Carter’ will be the lucky gal to get her own post this week.

Continue reading Midweek Review