Friday, May 20, 2016

The Strange Case of Discount Martin Freeman

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time Episodes 5.22-5.23: "Only You"/"An Untold Story - SPOILERS!

It's taken me the better part of a week to get up the motivation to write this review. Part of that is because it was my birthday on Tuesday *confetti* But also, it was due to the sheer underwhelmedness (that's a word now) that I felt watching this finale. I probably ought to change the title, but it's one of the two things about this finale that I actually liked.

Sigh... where to begin?

This whole stupid two-parter was just plot. Not even very good plot. Basically, it was checklist storytelling. Like "Oh crap, we need the characters in these positions by the time Season 6 premieres and they aren't there so.... PANIC!!"

Seriously - there is ZERO fallout from Robin Hood's death, no emotional closure there. Regina doesn't even get to say a proper goodbye to Roland or the Merry Men or ANYBODY. It's just "Oh, sorry kid. Your almost-new-mom is off with her blonde BFF on a wild goose chase. So, off through the portal with you. Your last paycheck is in the mail!"

Goodbye adorable Hobbit child. You deserved so much better.
Bad form, OUAT. Just bad form.

Also - and I hate to rag on these young actors because they don't really deserve it, but Henry and Violet were just bad in this episode. Like, middle-school play bad. Is it just because Jared Gilmore is usually around the older cast members and they can make his stiff acting look better? Can he just not carry a scene by himself? Did he get extremely poor direction? I honestly don't have an answer for this, because I thought he was so much better than what he was in this story.

I seriously don't even care that Henry's throwing his little pissy fit about how bad magic is and that he's going to destroy it, because AUTHOR! If I have to sit through one more awkwardly acted scene, I'm going to lose my gorram mind!

So what were the adult actors up to, anyway?

Again, setting up plot. And more plot. Just getting rid of whatever was left of Season 5 and starting to get geared up for Season 6. And here is one of my biggest complaints about this finale - I know that Once Upon A Time has this weird thing about making sure out heroes don't have a chance to breathe between adventures. Hardly one crisis ends before another comes in to take its place. They've even made jokes about it in the past - but now there's nothing left to joke about.

But for the love of Merlin's baggy Y-Fronts - can we PLEASE get some time to let these characters be characters? Emma and Hook were just barely reunited after thinking Hook was dead for dead. Regina's going through a tough loss. Hell, I'd even take a sappy Snow and Charming reunion, if it meant getting some decent closure to this storyarc.

In fact, going back to something I nit-picked earlier in the Underworld Arc - that episode where Mary Margaret was all "I don'wanna BE Mary Margaret anymore! I'm Snow White!" Remember how I said I never got the sense that was even an issue for her, so I didn't give a crap about this great and wonderful ~*~character moment~*~? THIS is why! They rush everyone so damn fast through the story that we never have a chance to let these characters breathe. So when these big revelations drop, we're left wondering... "Why was that even a thing that I should care about?"

I get it - you're trying to cram as many catchphrases and Disney characters into your story as possible. You're trying to make the big bucks for ABC. You're tryiing to justify your continued existence for the network. That means the equivalent of clickbait titles and ALL CAPS headlines (I blog for a living - I know how this works, at least on that level). There are business decisions being made here as well as artistic ones. Believe me, I understand that some things have to be sacrificed.

I'm going to go back to something I said on last week's episode of The Five(ish) Fangirls. We were talking about the cancellation of Castle and I mentioned that I think TV showrunners have about five good seasons in them and that's it (generally speaking - some have more, some less). But then the network comes in and says "Hey, can you make more for us?" And the showrunners - not wanting to suddenly be unemployed - have to come up with something new and exciting for a story and characters that they are completely burned out on. And, as time goes by, it shows. Castle was scraping the last barnacle off their barrel to the very end and their cancellation was more of a mercy kill than anything. I really don't want the same thing to happen to Once Upon a Time. It's an insult to the earlier seasons that made me fall in love with the show.

And if that's not the case and they just get bored with the current storyline that they're working on, so by the end of it they're just shoving all the old characters out of the way to make room for the new ones - then what in the world are you even DOING this for, anymore???

And if all you want is NEW SHINY EXCITING things, then why in the name of all that is good and holy do we have to have THIS bitch back for next year?

Good Granny's meatloaf - ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH! You seriously had to kill off one of the best characters on the show, just to trash on Regina's redemption story so we could have this over-sequined hosebeast back? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHYYYYYYY?

If nothing else, we did get Discount Martin Freeman as Dr. Jekyll -

(Which - that whole thing made NO sense. Why is Big Bruiser Dude working for an abstract personality construct that doesn't actually exist, anyway? You know what? Don't care)

There was also that bizarre Statue of Liberty moment from Ghostbusters 2 that Henry had. Which, as with anything Ghostbusters-related these days, the original was better -

In the end, that was just a wash anyway, because everyone in New York went back to their lives and never again spoke of that bizarre time they were compelled to throw pennies into a fountain because some awkward teenage weido told them to.

After all is said and done, the ONLY part of this season's finale I was even remotely interested what this moment where Emma and Killian FINALLY got their happy ending (for all of two seconds, before we got whisked off to deal with some other crisis or whatever) -

Given what this season was about - this SHOULD have been given a greater focus. Instead, we just got plot-driven storytelling. Which can be good, don't get me wrong. But they tried to do waaaaaay too much in too short of a time frame. There was too much out-of-character moments to get everyone in their starting positions for next year and it made no freaking sense.

I expect better of you, OUAT. And I got none of that. For a season that started out quite promising, you gave me garbage.

And I'm done until September. If I bother to tune in, that is.

Monday, May 9, 2016

You Know It Can't End Like That

Review/Recap of Once Upon A Time Episode 5.21 - "Last Rites" SPOILERS!
I have no reason to put this screencap here. I just like his face.
Dear Once Upon a Time -

I'll let Santa speak for me:

Couple of things I knew were going to happen in this episode -

- Hades was gonna die (it's the episode before the two-part finale. They NEVER leave the main-arc bad guys in play for that).

- Hook would live somehow. Even if he "crossed-over," he would live and come back to Storybrooke ("where you belong" - I see what you did there). They wouldn't write out one of the most - if not THE MOST - popular characters on the show. That's a surefire way to shoot your show in the foot *cough, cough* Castle *cough*

- And... that's all I "knew." Seriously - did you think I could have seen the return of King Arthur? (Though I do like that he's now the king of the Underworld. Nice touch, team).

I am kind of miffed about this, though not as much as I was last week. Yes, the good ship Captain Swan is off to smooth sailing (for now). But did they REALLY have to off Outlaw Queen in the process as well?

BLAH! Where's Tinker Bell when you need her?

Also, that being said - ARGH for the demise of Wicked Hell! Yes, I figured that Hades was lying through his whispering teeth (sheesh, did the director tell Greg Germann never to speak above a library whisper? I think there was one time this ENTIRE ARC where he spoke in a normal-sounding voice, and that was in this episode when he was kinda-sorta-a-little-bit yelling at Zelena to kill her sister). But it would have been nice for Zelena to get a happy ending of sorts. Especially since she was coming around to the not-as-bad-as-you-could-have-been side.

She'll never be 100% good. That's what makes her fun!


Apparently so. -_-'

I just hate that I'm happy because of this -

gif source
But then I'm also sad because of this -

gif source
I mean, Outlaw Queen wasn't my #1 favorite ship on this show, but it's one that I liked. I LIKED that Regina was getting her chance at happiness (especially when her first true love was taken from her so tragically). And then we had the whole Tinker Bell prophecy-thing and this show does One True Happy Hopeful Endings and Regina and Robin were all kinds of family lovely-ness and there were plans for the future and...

Rumple is still lying his face off to Belle and Belle is still dumb enough to fall for it.

Eff this damn show, sometimes.

I'm hoping that Zeus will take pity on us all and reinstate Robin Hood the way he reinstated Killian (and yes, I've seen interviews with Sean Maguire saying that he's for sure done with the show). I don't care that it's Deus ex Machina - this isn't freaking Game of Thrones where they kill off every character that everyone even remotely likes and even a few that no one likes (though that doesn't quite explain why Rumplestiltskin's still around, except that he's just a general pain in the ass and we need one of those to balance out the sickly-sweetness of Princes Rainbow Sparkepoo).

I dunno. I'm willing to see where these next two episodes go before I decide if season six is going to be worth it. I feel like they've told all the stories they're going to and that whatever they do from here on out is the network telling them to make more show or else. I just think they've gotten too many plates spinning in the air and it's all clashing together poorly. There is time to fix it... but that window is closing ever so more with every passing week.

So much for hope, guys.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Scout 2009-2016

I mentioned in my last Once Upon a Time review that my dog died on Sunday. Then I got to thinking that was quite the bomb to drop seemingly randomly like that. Plus, she deserves a greater mention than just a throwaway line in a ranty TV show review.

I was on my mission when Scout came into our family, so I missed the initial "adorable puppy phase" first few months of her life. Though, she certainly was still little and cute when I first met her. I don't remember her really being strange or standoffish with me. It was a weird that our family - who'd never had an indoor dog - suddenly owned this little yappy thing that would come crawl in bed with you if given the chance. But she just seemed to fit right in with our brand of chaos.

The time I spent the most with her was from the summer of 2010 until the spring of 2011. During that time, it seemed like our whole family was scattered to the four winds. I was still trying to figure out what to do with my post-mission life. If you've ever served and LDS mission, you know the transition to coming home can be a bit rough. My experience was certainly colored by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. There were no jobs to be had in Delta and I didn't have any way to move anywhere else. Plus, this was when I started having a hard time sleeping. I would cry without warning or reason. I just felt terrible about everything and I didn't know why. This was when I found out that I had anxiety and would have to start taking medication to help me sleep at night.

I tell this part of the story because this was when I started to connect with Scout. Even though she had been mostly Alison's dog to this point (and that never really changed), she and I started to bond. I'm not one of those prissy egotistical brats who carries a chihuahua in her purse and lies about it being a "service therapy animal" (what a load of bullshit), but having Scout around certainly helped keep me calm when I needed it. She would come snuggle in bed with me most nights and it was comforting to have her there.

Even when she hogged the blankets.
In August of 2011, I got a job at West Desert High School and moved out to Callao with my parents. Since my mom and sisters were in Delta finishing up school and my dad was off doing business-y things, it was mostly just me and Scout out at the ranch. There were plenty of nights where we were the only two in the main house. And it sounds stupid (even at the time I knew it was dumb), but I felt safer having the little weenie dog there. I mean, I have no idea what she would have done had there been a serious emergency - but it was nice not being alone in that big house.

After I'd get home from work, we'd go check on stuff around the farm yard (we had farm hands hired to do some of the more serious farm work during the day). Scout would chase gophers and birds and cows - yes, that crazy little dog would chase cows. And she was good at it, too. Dad often said that if Scout was a bigger dog, she'd be the best cow herder that he'd ever had. She HATED being left back at the house when they were working cows, but nobody wanted to see her get stomped by a cow or a horse.

I moved to Salt Lake in 2011, but I often found time to go home and visit. Scout would ALWAYS be happy to see me come home. Or she just wanted someone new to come give her belly rubs and she'd already annoyed everyone else. It was hard to tell sometimes. In fact, I think she had the toughest time during the holidays when everyone came to visit. Not because we were noisy or that we bothered her. But because she didn't know who to crawl in bed with. I swear, I think she just rotated throughout each night - she'd come get in bed with me, then take off after twenty minutes to go sleep with someone else, then she'd be back later. I guess the winner was whoever's bed she was in when morning came. Even then, she'd be up and demanding you wake up as well.

Even on times when I got home super later, she would come racing downstairs to wake me up and be excited that I was home for a visit. That could also be that she knew I'd get up and let her outside - only to have to let her back in after a few minutes. But that was Scout. She always had her own agenda.

And then there were the grandkids. Holy crap - she was hilarious with them. Particularly Jaylee. I don't think Scout quite knew what to do with a new baby in the family. They ended up having their own brand of a loving feud going between them. But this is still my favorite picture of them both -

Oh and I CERTAINLY can't forget the infamous Pink Snuggie of Shame. We got it for her for Christmas one year because the dog on the box looked like her. Man, she did NOT like wearing that thing. At one point, I'm pretty sure she hid it behind the couch so we wouldn't put her in it anymore. It became known as the Snuggie of Shame and we'd make her wear it when she was being naughty -

In summer of 2014, I ended up having to go to the doctor's for a last-minute emergency because my anxiety was kicking back into super-scary-high-gear and making my life absolutely hell again. I took time off work, went back to Delta, and stayed at my parents' house there for a day or two. My mom was there, thankfully, but so was Scout. The day of my appointment, I basically just sat on the couch with Scout and she just wanted to snuggle and play with me. And I managed to ignore how crappy I felt and how awful my mind was tricking me into thinking everything was. For a day, it was just me and Scout being silly goofballs (which we both excel at). I have no idea if she even knew that anything was wrong or if she was just happy to have someone to poke at. But that was a terrible-day-made-better partly because of her.

That crazy dog survived all kinds of bizarre accidents. She tore the corner of her ear off. She got in fights with bigger dogs. She ran after cars and trucks. She chased cows and managed to never get stepped on (which, for a creature her size, would have been a disaster).

And what I have said over and over since Sunday afternoon was that it would be something as normal and natural as having puppies that would do her in. For all the crazy risks she took - it's almost a blessing that she died peacefully.

I could tell countless stories about this insane little creature, but I don't have that kind of time. But I can observe that owning a dog is one of the strangest things this life has to offer. As The Oatmeal put it in his comic "My Dog: The Paradox" -

Scout's life certainly was that. She was energetic, enthusiastic, fearless, and lovable. Even when she drove us crazy, she was part of the family and we loved her.

I'll let Baxter Black close with a tribute to all our canine friends who leave us before we're ready for them to go. It's quite fitting -

RIP, Scout. May there be cows for you to chase in heaven.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I'm Out.

Review/Recap of Once Upon a Time Episode 5.20 - "Firebird" SPOILERS! (sorta...)
Imma pretend this is where things left off. Better than the alternative.



Do not want.



Rumbelle gets a baby and Captain Swan gets THIS?

Once Upon a Time - I freaking hate you right now.

I don't even care what happens in the next episode.

Well... maybe I do. A little.

There had BETTER be some last-minute, eleventh-hour heroics, or this will be THE LAST season I watch. I don't care if you resort to Deus ex Machina at this point. JUST FIX THIS.


Let me draw up some perspective for you: My family's dog died on Sunday. The current political season is seven kinds of shitstorm-and-three-quarters. Beloved celebrities are dying like fruit flies. DC just took a huge dump on the character of Superman and called it a movie. I'm more and more convinced that Sweet Meteor of Death would be the best choice for president in November. And you're going to totally nuke the best romantic couple you have on this freaking show??

I'm sorry. Did Once Upon a Time and Castle switch writing teams? What do you think this is?

You all are lucky there are still three episodes left of this season. You have time. Get your crap together.