A Chance for Success: “The Expo Factor” review

A season finale is a chance to do something big, something epic, something amazing! Just like season premieres, or holiday specials, or mid-season two-parters.

This is opposed to the filler episodes that are produced because you’ve been commissioned for 26 episodes, and have to put something out.

Most shows operate in this vein. You have a few big event-based episodes, where most of the effort and budget goes, and other episodes are produced on smaller budgets so one has enough money to pay for the bigger episodes. Star Trek did this all the time. They were called ‘bottle shows,’ where old sets and props were reused, no major visual effects were added, and no major guest-stars were hired. The prime example might be Twisted, where the main cast was trapped on the holodeck and surrounding corridors, as a spacial distortion ran through the ship. Not much happened, and not much had to be built. I think the hardest part of production was the Photoshop filters they had to include.

It’s just the nature of the beast in live-action television. A low-budget episode has to use already-existing sets, and can’t do anything spectacular. Animation, on the other hand, can already be done on-the-cheap quite easily, even with new backgrounds, effects, and animation assets. Let’s be honest, I doubt it takes the animators more than an hour or two to knock out a brand new location. Especially with modern animation software. Draw a few dozen vectors and you’re done! Alright, I’m probably over simplifying. The point is, animation is cheap. You don’t need to hire an army of contractors to build a set, when you can hire three guys to draw stuff on computers.

Because of this, every episode can be big and epic. But you don’t want to devalue awesomeness. And one of the reasons I like My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, is that the episodes rarely adhere to any kind of formula. It runs the gamut from charming slice-of-life, to balls-to-the-wall adventure. Because I remember watching Power Rangers when I was a kid, and after a while, it all gets kinda samey.

But when all is said and done, you want to end with a bang. Which is why I think a season finale should feature something big. The first season of My Little Pony, for instance, ended with the Grand Galloping Gala, which certainly fit the bill. Sure, there were no epic fight sequences, but it was a big event where a lot happened, and the anticipation was built up over several preceding episodes.

Much like the recent season finale of Littlest Pet Shop, where Blythe finally participates in the International Pet Fashion Expo!

This is something that we’ve been waiting on for months, since Blythe sold her scooter so she could enter the thing. References have been dropped since then, and one could assume it would be a large-scale adventure, much like the Grand Galloping Gala was.

Unfortunately, that really didn’t happen. Continue reading

Penny 4 MINKA: “Standup Stinker” review

I’m of the opinion that one of the most important endeavors of modern civilization is the exploration of space. The expansion of our civilization from this tiny little marble, to the furthest reaches of the galaxy. And it depresses me that this is a minority opinion.

This is the next giant step for mankind, and on the issue-priority list, it’s below the quest to build bigger guns, and whether or not a delusional shitkicker from Nevada gets to graze his cattle on someone else’s property for free.

This is pathetic! And I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the rush? Space isn’t going anywhere!” Well, yes, but we might. With all the ecological damage being done to the planet, who knows how long it’ll last before saying, “fuck it,’ and just eating us! Not only that, there’s an old rule in science: If you start an experiment, it better be finished before you die. This is why they’ve only recently tried to send rockets to Pluto; because it’s only recently that we’ve built rockets fast enough to make the trip within a century.

I have, maybe, 70 years left on this planet, minimum. Twice that if I have anything to say about it. It may seem incredibly selfish; but dammit, I wanna see cities on Mars before I die, and I’m sure I’m not the only one! When I was a kid, I was promised a Mars mission in 2020. Now, 2020 is apparently the year NASA’s planning to go to space again. It’ll be their comeback tour, they’re gonna orbit the moon, play their greatest hits. Maybe as an encore they’ll blow up an oxygen tank and nearly run out of water. Yes, I am bitter. How’d you know?

And yes, I’m still angered by the fact that Constellation, the big, far-reaching plan for future space exploration, was cancelled because of reasons! Thanks, Obama!

No, literally, it’s his fault.

And if the James Webb Space Telescope isn’t launched by the end of 2018, and is instead blocked because of some political horseshit… Well, there’s not much I can do is there!? Since you won’t let me leave this fucking planet, no matter how much I’d want to at that point! It actually feels like I’m being held captive here!

Yes! I, personally, want to go to Mars, and I’m absolutely positive I’m not the only one. Yeah, there are risks; one can die; but that’s life! Out of every single person that’s been in space, only 3% never came back down. And yes, that sucks. But you don’t stay in the cave just because a dragon might be waiting outside! A trip to Mars is full of risks, and I’m willing to take them! In fact, if any Martian colonization project pops up, I’m declaring now: I’m the first to volunteer. No question.

It’s not simply because this planet and everyone on it is annoying the crap out of me more and more as each day goes by. It’s because it would be something no one’s ever done before. It’ll be the next step for mankind. It’ll be the frontier. It’ll push our society forward, rather than allow it to stagnate. Which is something we’ve always done. Humanity has always tried to push forward, to evolve, to advance, to have each generation do better, and live longer, than the one before. It’s part of what makes us human, and truly separates us from the animals.

… Well… most animals. Because it just so happens one little monkey feels the exact same way.

Continue reading

Reverse Hypocondria: “The Hedgehog In The Plastic Bubble” review

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favourite movies is Contagion. A film all about a deadly pandemic and the impact it has on society and the world at large.

People die, others panic, and it all hits the fan. The film covered the event from every conceivable angle, including the perspective of a nutbar conspiracy theorist who creates more panic, and additional riots, over some type of miracle bullshit water.

Many characters even put themselves under personal quarantines, cutting themselves off from the world in an effort to protect themselves from the virus, which may be an appropriate reaction. And those who are infected… well they end up getting too sick to do much of anything. That being said, they don’t appear to be too concerned about quarantines or avoiding infecting others. Which is fucked when you think about it.

If you have a dangerous and deadly virus, going outside and letting it spread to others is just irresponsible. Oh, sure, you might survive… but that’s kinda beside the point!

If you think you’re sick, placing yourself under some type of quarantine is the only responsible thing to do. Assuming it’s feasible. And with that, I bring you the latest episode of Littlest Pet Shop, which is all about a quarantine. Two quarantines, as a matter of fact. Continue reading

The Schizm: “Sunil’s Sick Day” review

Friendships can break down on occasion. It happens. When I was younger, I had arguments with my friends all the time. Then I grew up, and I had no friends, so it wasn’t really an issue anymore.

Fighting with friends doesn’t mean losing friends. But it’s easy to see why that would be the case. Tempers flare, you say things that aren’t so nice. It all culminates in declaring you never want to see the other again, or unpleasant declarations about someone’s mother, or something getting broken, possibly a nose. And then you think it’s over.

But true friendship doesn’t end. At least, not that easily. After all, friendship is magic!

Which is why it should surprise no one that this theme played out perfectly on the show that’s all about friendship, and love, and tolerance: Littlest Pet Shop!

Oh! Of course! Continue reading

The Little Outdoors: “Littlest Bigfoot” review

I’ll admit, I kinda like camping. It can be quite relaxing. The day-to-day bustle of modern life can get excruciating over time, so the chance to get away from it, and just relax in the great outdoors, can be nice. Assuming you can still get an internet connection.

Then there’s light pollution. Next time you go camping, try looking up. You may notice something quite spectacular: Stars! I know! Amazing, isn’t it? You don’t get those in the city. I can spend hours just looking in awe at the night sky. With the Milky Way arching across. On occasion I might see the moon in all it’s brilliance, like a second sun. You can even pick out planets, nebulae, even galaxies if you try hard enough.

I might be genetically hardwired to appreciate the inherent beauty of the universe. Just the fact that I can spot the Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye just leaves me euphoric, and awestruck. In that moment, I’m witnessing of trillions of stars, and perhaps even millions of alien civilizations, all at once.

And that’s why I love camping, because of astronomy.

But there are certainly other reasons. Dozens of reasons, in fact, to go camping. Which must have been why everyone was so excited to camping on last week’s episode of Littlest Pet Shop. Continue reading

Her Name is Minka, and She Dances on the Sand: “Plane it on Rio!” review

I love callbacks! They’re great! They combine comedy with continuity, tickling both the funny and nerdy parts of my brain. But they’re very rare on shows like Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony. This is mainly because these shows are structured so episodes can be watched in any order, and even skipped over, so as to not penalize those who are either casual viewers, or just decided to miss an episode or two.

There was a time when making a continuity-heavy show like 24 would’ve been, if not impossible, a fast way to lose viewers. Since missing a single episode would mean missing a large chunk of the overarching story, making the program unwatchable. And missing single episodes is something that’s going to happen on occasion to all but the most dedicated of viewer.

But now, these kinds of programs have become a mainstay of modern television. And it’s all thanks to on-demand services such as TiVo, NetFlix, and whatever online solution the broadcaster wishes to provide. This kind of flexibility allows the viewer to watch a show at whatever time they want. Which wasn’t possible before without a blank VHS tape, a VCR, a computer science degree so you could program the damn thing, and the ability to predict the future so you know when you’re gonna be late.

And that was all assuming the show didn’t get rescheduled that week, or wasn’t delayed by some cheesy sporting event.

So, why are they not more common? Like I said, Littlest Pet Shop and My Little Pony don’t do continuity that often. Generally if a new character appears on a given episode, there’s a good chance we’ll never see them again. And references to earlier episodes are almost non-existent, even when you’d expect a character to do just that.

Rainbow: Come on, Fluttershy! You have to get angry!
Fluttershy: But I’m not angry.
Rarity: Oh, I know, pretend the Mane-iac took your taxi, or stood in front of you in line, or asked for directions…
Rainbow: What?
Rarity: You weren’t there, just trust me on this.

That was cut from the superhero episode.

Then there are episodes where a character learns the same thing they learned in a previous episode. As if they were lobotomized or something in the interim.

On the bright side, this practice seems to be falling to the wayside. On My Little Pony, we had Twilight becoming a princess which closed off the last season and is running throughout this one, the renovation of the castle in the Everfree forest was covered in two different episodes which built off each other, and then there’s the ongoing Equestria Games saga.

But on Littlest Pet Shop, it’s been much more pervasive, as we see characters mention events from earlier episodes on a regular basis. Like the Pet Jet, the Pet Fashion Expo, and Russell’s phasmophobia. And I think it finally reached its peak, on the day the pets take a trip to Rio De Janeiro for the big Brazilian Carnival (car-nih-VAHL) celebrations! Primarily because it feels like a sequel to an earlier episode, and because it just won’t stop it with the callbacks! Continue reading

Vote for Creepy Clones: “Inside Job” review

Normally, I’m a very positive and upbeat person. Shut up! I am! But I can understand why people would assume otherwise. After all, virtually every post I write does nothing but throw shit at TV shows that I’m not even the target audience of.

But the only reason I do that is because most of the time, I genuinely enjoy these shows. My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop are great programs that simply don’t get enough credit. Or in the case of My Little Pony, get way too much credit by sycophantic nutjobs wanting to suck off the main cast, or insane fanboys who can’t stand change of any kind.

But because I genuinely enjoy these shows, whenever I see them falter, I feel the need to draw attention to it, so it doesn’t happen again. Because we can only fix problems that we’re aware of, and making us aware of problems is the exact niche criticism fills. Continue reading

A Dog and a Half: “Grounded” review

“Circumstances of birth are nothing more than random, and should never be a source of pride or shame.” – Penn Jillette, Penn and Teller: Bullshit, Season 4 Episode 7: Reparations

I don’t really know why people think their ancestry actually matters. I guess it’s because of this weird obsession some people have with the past.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are?, which takes celebrities on a tour of their ancestry. And the title is enough to annoy the hell out of me. I’m sure it’s interesting to learn what our ancestors did for a living, but saying that in any way tells us who we are (as implied by the title), is just fucking asinine! But I guess, Who Do You Think Your Ancestors Were? doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

I’ve said all this before. The only practical thing genealogy teaches us is: What type of genetic predispositions we have to certain illnesses. It’s not really useful to anyone other than medical professionals.

But what about ancestry in a broader sense? I hear you ask! Surely it matters if our ancestors come from Asia or the middle east! It’s our heritage, our culture! If our ancestors were from Africa, shouldn’t we start practising ancient African tribal religions? If our ancestors were Jewish, shouldn’t we start practising Judaism as well? And what about royalty!? Surely if we have pure royal blood, that’s something to be proud of! We should start wearing crowns, and demand to be called lady or lord or whatever!

No! No! No! No! And finally: No!

Whether our parents are Jewish, or African, or the King and Queen of Spain, or anything else, doesn’t matter in the slightest. It’s certainly interesting, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t change who we are. I mean, if I found out I descended from Jewish people, I might gain a greater hatred for the events of World War II, but it wouldn’t change who I am, nor what I believe. And I wish this was a message that was told more often. But when they had the perfect opportunity to do so, the writers of Littlest Pet Shop decided to squander it instead. Which I find very fucking irritating. Continue reading