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Cartoon Review

Exciting News For Fans of Tabletop RPGs and The Dragon Prince!

Exciting news for fans of tabletop RPGs and The Dragon Prince! Wonderstorm announced a new tabletop RPG in the world of The Dragon Prince!

This RPG “Tales of Xadia” will be in between Season 3 and the LONG anticipated Season 4 of The Dragon Prince!

Here is the official trailer:

“Explore the world of Xadia like never before with
Tales of Xadia: The Dragon Prince Roleplaying Game In The Dragon Prince, an extraordinary discovery inspires two human princes and an elven assassin to team up on an epic quest to bring peace to their warring lands. In the Tales of Xadia game, you can continue the story or forge your own path with friends.

  • Play as elves connected to the primal sources of magic or as a member of the Human Kingdoms to experience epic new stories.
  • Join an immersive, worldwide The Dragon Prince storyline that directly ties to the action in the series.
  • Focus on playing instead of searching through rules: our digital tools make gameplay faster and keep the fun at the front as you bring all the magic and wonder of The Dragon Prince to your table.”

Learn more HERE

Fandom History Files: Voltron: Legendary Defenders

Hello everyone! I’m Monster Review Girl, and welcome to the Fandom History files! 

This will be a series of articles where I go into the history, fandom, and fandom history of a show, as well as fandom and internet phenomenon. For this, my first article, I’m going to cover the Voltron reboot, Voltron: Legendary Defenders!

I’ll be covering the history of the show (both vague plot overview and real-world history of the show), it’s fandom, and how the fandom shifted and changed to reflect the show.

Real-world History and Reception

Debuting on Netflix in mid-2016, the reboot of the 1980’s cartoon of the same name ran for 8 seasons, totaling 78 episodes. With each episode running about 20 minutes, that’s… 1,560 watch minutes, or 26 watch hours. So if you’ve got a day to yourself, with nothing else to do, grab some snacks and watch it.

If you don’t want spoilers, evacuate now! Seriously. Bail out. Go watch it and come back.

Now, this series was not without controversy. The biggest one that wasn’t spawned from its fanbase was the Shiro and Adam debacle. You see Shiro, the pilot of the Black Lion, was gay. 

Adam was his ex-fiance that he’d broken up with before going off into space and having the wheels fall off. There were massive complaints due to how the writers handled Adam. By that we mean Adam getting off in the latter half of season 7. Shiro marrying someone else in the series finale’s “two years later” epilogue didn’t help. To which I have to say, Guys, do we need to see every second of a character’s interactions with another character to justify them getting together?

The creators answered the complaints with “We’re sorry, we wanted to handle this differently, but we were under certain restrictions for handling the LGBTQ community. Our bad.” and admitted that the wedding epilogue scene was an attempt at an olive branch they probably shouldn’t have rushed.

The story

Now, on to the story. The story follows the humans Shiro, Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, as well as the space elf Alteans Allura and Coran. as they try to fix the flaming outrage that is the Galran empire currently tyrannying all over space. It’s very Monster of the Week, but there’s enough of an overarching plot to keep the viewer invested. I wish I could go into more beyond the plot points I need to for this article, but there’s a LOT.

The first season focuses a lot on our merry band of five adjusting to their new environment and obligations. We find out that this incarnation made Pidge, the tech-savvy Green Lion pilot – into a girl. This was handled well by the writers, namely that the reveal that Pidge was a girl changed nothing about how the guys handled her.

There are a lot of points where characters learn things about themselves as people and it helps them grow as characters. Keith discovering his mother was a Galran rebel who fled Earth to protect him was a huge character moment for him, and even ended with him joining the same rebellion as his mother for a time. Don’t worry, the mom survives to the end of the show. 

Allura learning ancient magics and using them several times is another moment for her, as it brought her closer to her deceased father. I mean, the woman can intimidate a much more experienced sorceress with sheer raw POWER, and perform consciousness transference. That is a FEAT and a half and I have to applaud the character and the writers on that.

The Fandom Itself

Now, sadly, on to the cringey bits of this. The fandom. The Voltron fandom had been a largely quiet one, content to enjoy the show through the veil of nostalgia. Then the reboot came, and with it came a modern fandom. And things got WILD. Like, death threats and doxxing level wild.

And if you’ve been living under a rock, doxxing is the illegal practice of revealing someone’s personal information publicly with malicious intent. The doxxing case involved someone wanting Lance and Keith to become a canonical romantic couple. This was despite Lance having Allura as a romantic interest before her passing.

All in all, I loved this show when I watched it, despite having to ignore the fandom. Could Shiro’s gayness and the issues that came from its representation have been handled differently? Yes. Did the fandom react appropriately? No. 

So, go watch the show and enjoy it. Ignore the fandom and enjoy the giant robots and space opera adventure!

RWBY V8 Ch7 “War” In-Depth Review

Is a spoiler warning needed? I hope it’s not. But if it is, this obviously contains spoilers for the episode that non-FIRST Members can’t see yet. If you aren’t FIRST and don’t want to be spoiled, then don’t read this.

Okay.

That out of the way.

Oh my god this episode was absolutely fantastic. I personally was not a fan of last episode. Cinder’s backstory came far too little too late. I could probably write an article about how it would’ve been better utilised in V4. 

Onto the actual episode. This was done as running commentary while rewatching.

There are a lot of critiques here, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love this episode. I’m a writer so I will nitpick things when actually watching with a critical eye. 

The opening. You know stuff’s about to go down when they start with the environmental shots. It’s such a common thing to use in any visual medium. It helps create the illusion things are peaceful before breaking into the absolute chaos that is about to erupt.

And yep, things go to complete heck. We pan to the Atlassian soldiers on the frontlines, waiting for the Grimm.

I do like the little detail of the soldier’s gun rattling. Anyone in their right mind would be absolutely terrified of this absolute insanity. Considering Salem parked her whale on the ground like it’s a big ole semi truck… 

And back to Ironwood completely losing it. 

I can understand what he’s doing here. Trying to protect the people is good. But causing further mass panic is just…not great. I know that you need to get citizens moved as quickly as possible. And you need every man possible on the front line. But even so…that was not the smart way to do it. The efficient one, yes, but not smart. Causing even further negative emotions will just make the Grimm attracted even more and make things far, far worse than they already were. There have to be some officers that can help keep evacuations orderly… 

My other point was just “okay so you’re sending them to where the centipedes are tunneling in. That’s another massacre waiting to happen.”

The next scene is just…so heartbreaking. 

The bbys have been arrested. The orders have been given and just, yes Yang, Go. Go my child. CALL THEM OUT.

Of course the Ace Ops don’t believe them about Oscar. I know it’s not typical of Grimm, but come on. The lady who creates the Grimm is literally in her SUV whale. Is it so hard to believe that she could create something that was never seen before? That whale probably doesn’t exist elsewhere. 

This scene is great and sets up the next section for that interaction so well.

The rotating shot around Winter’s head is just beautiful. I’m not an animation nerd, but it’s just so pretty. The sky, lighting, the shading around her head… It’s all so subtle and beautiful. 

And her eyes, oh the beauty in her eyes in this scene. 

The orders Ironwood gives are just nuts. “Drop a bomb in the whale. Don’t care about the people inside.” That’s understandable since they’re all on the crazy train. They’re the enemy. But Oscar. Ironwood doesn’t know that, but he wouldn’t care.

“Your team will deliver the bomb when it’s ready.” 

You can just see the resignation on Winter’s face. There are just so many things you can read into that expression especially once he finishes the orders. Especially with what’s coming up.

Even with all of those thoughts, she still agrees. She still agrees even though this is quite possibly the equivalent of a nuclear bomb for Remnant. Ironwood isn’t giving a single care for the safety of her or the Ace Ops. After the scene in Ch 1, you know he doesn’t. Any sacrifice is worth it if he can save Atlas. Nothing else matters. Not even if it means losing his absolute most elite personnel.

And just her hand shaking. My sweet child, I feel for you so much.

I know I should get into this part, but I just…I don’t care. I don’t care about the villains. I do find Salem fun to watch, but that’s it. I don’t care about Emerald, Mercury, or any of them. Cinder least of all. 

And Tyrian even less. I’m not a fan of the psychotic types.

It is an extremely well-done segment though. 

Salem literally doing Grimm bending like she’s a waterbender or something. Paired with the classical music, it’s just such a great dissonance.

Oscar trying to get Hazel’s trust by telling him about the lamp is an angle I expected. 

Emerald has never been loyal to Salem either. All she cares about is Cinder. That sort of by proxy loyalty isn’t what you want in an arrangement like this. It opens up this exact sort of opportunity for defection. The only thing that probably will keep her there will be Cinder. She’s clearly not going anywhere due to the power Salem offers her. The power to do whatever she wants in the world. 

Just the looks when you can see Hazel, Emerald, and Mercury want off the freaking crazy train. 

And we’re back to the complete heartbreak up in Atlas. This…is another well-done scene.

“She needs a doctor.” Let’s stick a pin in that for later.

The discussion of what to do next is just so good. The conflict and uncertainty just oozes in every line spoken. They’re doing their best, but you can tell they know it’s not good enough. They’re so small against something so large and seemingly insurmountable. 

The major turning point is Weiss being forced to choose between Atlas and Mantle. 

They want to stay there to help even though, originally, the plan was just to launch Amity and get back to mantle. Nora kinda threw a wrench into that. 

But you can understand Weiss’ feelings so well here. They’re in her home, where she was raised. Even if she doesn’t care for her brother and her mother’s a drunk…they’re still her family. Plus Winter’s fighting in Atlas too. Even if they stand on opposite sides, they’re still sisters. Weiss probably wants to protect all of them. Plus, more people will continue to die in Atlas which isn’t what they want by any means.

May has a serious point though. Team RWBY’s idealism won’t work here. They have to choose between helping Mantle or Atlas. Mantle only has the Happy Huntresses and Weiss, Blake, and Ruby. She has to make a choice. THe same sort of choice Ironwood himself made.

The parallels are so good here.

Also, of course, May being acknowledged as transgender in this scene is A+ too. It was originally just a Word of God thing. But, now, it’s fully out in the open. It’s good to see this sort of representation. 

And next… 

…I wonder just how long Whitley’s been listening. It seems to be implied from the beginning but May certainly would’ve seen him. 

Next segment is more villain stuff. I kinda summarised the two above, so I’ll just move onto the next bit.

This. This is the best part of the episode. I do not have enough praise for it. Ren calling the Ace Ops and Winter out on their BS was just so expertly done. 

Let me just first give props to Neath for this entire thing. His delivery was what nailed this scene. You can read what’s going on through Ren’s head so well. The strong writing plus delivery just makes this possibly one of the best scenes in RWBY up to this point. My favorite is still personally the one in Alone Together (V5 Ch8) when the girls are talking about Blake.

First point. Y’all are talking to the wrong team here. People are absolutely not replaceable. They agreed to keep fighting like Pyrrha’s by their side. You are saying the exact wrong thing to them

Second point. Oh my poor babies Marrow and Winter. You could just see it in Ch 1 those two didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. Ironwood shooting the councilman was the breaking point. But they’re probably also afraid. He shot a councilman who was just trying to talk. How much worse would they have it if they left? He definitely wouldn’t let them survive if at all possible.

Third point. Ren’s Semblance. I am of two minds about this. On one hand, it just feels awful convenient. We haven’t seen this ability before in him, then it’s just suddenly…there. But, on the other hand, it does contribute to making the scene so phenomenal. 

Fourth point. I love this explanation for them losing against Team RWBY. I know a lot of people were upset about how the Ace Ops lost. It was a phenomenal fight, but it didn’t exactly make sense how such an elite squad could lose against a bunch of newbies. But, with this, it explains the team dynamics that led to the downfall. Not being able to work together and actively fighting against each other will undermine even the most elite. For a team as close as RWBY, it’s much easier to win when the opponents aren’t in sync.

Fifth point. Let’s go into the Ace Ops’ colors a little bit. Information pulled from Incredible Art Department and Empower Yourself Through Color. Also this is just a very basic layout of things. You could write an entire breakdown on all of them. I just wanna try to keep it kinda brief. 

I also did read a breakdown like this from Marrow Loves You on twitter (it’s where I got th idea). We probably pulled from the same site(s). So it’ll likely pull the same information and be similar.

Harriet’s colors are red and orange with red being the most pronounced of them. On the positive side, red is associated with passion, love, desire, speed (hah), and strength. On the negative side, it’s associated with war, violence, and, of course, anger.

Orange’s positive traits are energy, warmth, enthusiasm, and balance. On the more negative side of things, it means things are superficial and insincere, overbearing, pessimism, and being overly proud. Interestingly, the orange doesn’t appear until Ren starts talking and she starts denying things. 

Marrow’s color is blue which, positively, means peace, tranquility, calm, and trustworthiness. Negatively, it’s associated with despair, depression, instability, and aloofness. 

Elm’s colors are the same as Harriet’s. 

Vine’s color is green. Positively, it means generosity, stability, renewal, and health. Negatively, it’s associated with jealousy, envy, misfortune, and cautious. 

I could do more of an analysis on this, but this article is already long. That’d probably double this already excessive wordcount… 

I really do wonder how Ironwood’s going to react once he learns Winter let fugitive traitors go…

Okay, NEXT SCENE FINALLY. 

Hard cut to Ruby trying to be idealistic (again) and May being the pragmatist. Though, one detail I just noticed in that scene was Blake’s ears folding down. 

You can only imagine what’s running through her head right now. People are dying because of decisions they’re making. She’s being pulled and tugged in directions she doesn’t like. They’re leaving a bunch of people to die because they’re the “wrong” crowd. 

May is being pragmatic and realistic, but I can imagine that at least some part of Blake things she’s lashing out at Atlas for how they treated her.

Just like she did in the White Fang.

But man, this scene makes me so happy. Whitley is finally showing some character development. Jacques wouldn’t have approved of this sort of thing most likely. So him doing it because it’s the right thing is just so good. And then Weiss showing her appreciation…

Oh my heart can’t take it

And then Penny of course.

Not entirely sure what to make of it.

All in all, I feel like this is one of the absolute strongest episodes in the volume so far. While I do have some criticisms of it toward the beginning, the later parts make up for them far far more than I can count. It entirely washed the bad taste of last episode out of my mouth. 

Guest Write For AAOG & Some RWBY Theories!

All Ages of Geek is excited to discover what is next on RWBY. We want to hear your fan theories. A community member Angelique wrote out some questions they have about what will happen next.

“Will Winter Schnee deflect from James Ironwood military? This is one of the many questions I have about the Schnees. We all know Winter is loyal to Ironwood. But what if she has to fight Weiss Schnee, her younger sister, then what? I truly believe that in this case blood will be stronger than duty. We already saw it when Winter gave Weiss a head start. 

The other Schnee that I wonder about is Whitley. Weiss and Whitley don’t get along but I truly believe if Weiss just talks to him maybe they can reach an understanding.  It is common knowledge that because of Jacques Schnee the Schnee family is not as close anymore.

So my hope is that maybe the Schnee siblings will come together in what little is left of their bonds. Because they’re still family and family is what keeps us going.”

Be sure to keep up to date with All Ages of Geeks reactions on our youtube:

AND~ tag us on social media to tell us your fan theories. If you ever want to be a guest writer be sure to email AllAgesofhr@gmail.com for more information!

Blood of Zeus Review

After the success of Castlevania, Netflix and Powerhouse Animation Studios team up again for another series as they tackle the realm of Greek mythology. Blood of Zeus is another masterpiece from the Netflix anime library that puts an eight-episode season into an epic story of destiny, fate, and family. 

The story follows a young huntsman named Herron who lives as an outsider in his hometown along with his mother. As with any story with rising heroes, Herron discovers his destiny is linked with the Greek Gods after a swarm of demons attacks his town. Our young hero is aided by Elias, a wise old man who knows a whole lot about the Gods than he’s letting on. Sort of like Merlin is to Arthur, Elias gives Herron some help in his fight against the demons. Throughout the season, Herron learns about the never-ending battle between the Gods and the monstrous Giants, descendants of the all-powerful Titans. As the demons bring havoc on Earth, it is up to Herron and some allies to help keep the world in balance before it falls to the Giants and ending humanity.

If you are well-versed in Greek mythology whether it’s in books or films, then these stories may be familiar. However, it is the animated style and storytelling that makes Blood of Zeus stand apart. The designs of the characters, environments, and even the creatures are truly unique and breathtaking. From the heavens of Mount Olympus to the depths of Hell, the series uses much vibrant colors and designs to bring life to these epic locales. Even the action sequences are something to marvel at thanks to the beautiful animation. For instance, seeing the Gods fighting against the Giants in the big finale is glorified and very exciting to watch on screen.

Created by Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, this writing duo has managed to bring a theatrical feel to the series showcasing how powerful these Greek Gods can be. With their credits including the live-action film Immortals, it’s no wonder these guys are all too familiar with the landscape of Greek mythology. Thanks to the incredible musical score, title designs, and the 300-style fight scenes, Blood of Zeus cranks the volume all the way up. Animated storytelling is the perfect way to go for a series like this, something that the movies can’t always work with. 

There’s plenty of drama to go around as the characters help drive the story. Despite having Herron as our protagonist, there are other characters that we get to follow in their journey. Alexia, an Amazonian warrior, shows her fierce skills as a fighter as well as an explorer when uncovering the secrets of the demons. We get some serious family drama from Olympus when it’s between the Gods as Zeus goes up against his jealous wife Hera in a civil war. It is a pleasure to see each of the Gods and explore their inner psyche.

Blood of Zeus is definitely another winner for Netflix as the streaming service continues their streak with top-notch series for their anime library. It’s a perfect blend of Greek mythology with the impressive visuals of animation. It is a series worth taking your time with if you’re a fan of anime or just great storytelling.

Blood of Zeus is now available to stream on Netflix.

In Memory of Joe Ruby: My Life With Scooby-Doo

On August 26th, 2020, the world lost Joe Ruby, the co-creator of one of the biggest, most well-known shows of all time: Scooby-Doo. He was 87 when he passed away from old age. While his life may have ended, the legacy that he left behind will remain as an eternal part of our lives. Even if you’ve never watched any of the shows/seasons (or even the movies), you’ve at least heard of it and the numerous pieces of merchandise available worldwide. In honor of Joe Ruby’s passing and the world he helped create, I will be sharing with you, the readers, my experience with Scooby-Doo and how much it impacted my life.

The earliest memories I have with Scooby-Doo was when I saw Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. While I didn’t have cable at my house, there was a relative of mine or a friend of the family that we would visit that had access to cable. I even remember some of the after school latchkey programs (that I attended when I was little) that had cable, and Scooby-Doo was one of the many shows airing during my time there. After watching some of the shows, two of the live-action movies, and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, I would check out any other animated movies from the library. I might’ve not seen all of them, but I’ve enjoyed each one that I watched. Each one had its own interesting synopsis and plot twist, not to mention the monster that was the main focus of each movie.

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (Video 1998) - IMDb
Photo from imdb.com

As I grew older, I didn’t watch Scooby-Doo as often as I would want to. I would mainly focus on other series and my studies. However, the memories and my enjoyment of the series never faded. It wasn’t until years later, that I found my copy of Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island on VHS and watched it again. To my surprise, the movie’s animation, story, and even voice acting still holds up. Out of the many Scooby-Doo animated movies, Zombie Island is the one that will always remain on the top 10 list of my favorite movies. Looking back, most of my exposure to Scooby-Doo was through the many animated movies. I remember, back when the library had VHS tapes, I would check out any Scooby-Doo movies that I would discover. I must’ve watched Scooby-Doo and The Loch Ness Monster at least a dozen times when I checked it out. As far as I can remember, the only animated Scooby-Doo movies I’ve ever watched was Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Scooby-Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders, Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase, Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster, Scooby-Doo! Meets the Boo Brothers, Scooby-Doo! and the Ghoul School, and Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf. Back then, I had no idea that there were so many animated movies for the franchise, which blew my mind when I got older. At the time, I naively thought there were only a handful of animated movies for Scooby-Doo. I had no idea that (at the time of this article’s publication) there are 38 animated films with the 39th coming out this October. I had to lean back in my chair when I found out about this. I wouldn’t say that I think it’s excessive, I’m just surprised that they made this many. The ideas for each case are definitely worth being made into a movie (otherwise we would have a five-part arc for each said case) and while the synopsis for a few seemed a bit out there, I enjoyed the ones I’ve seen so far.

While I didn’t have very many good memories of the first live-action Scooby-Doo! movie, Monsters Unleashed definitely left a better and stronger lasting impression on me. The whole idea of the gang facing real versions of monsters they’ve unmasked in the past just felt perfect. It also brought me back to what they went through when they were on Zombie Island. Sure, there may have been moments that seemed almost over the top with its cheesiness, I feel like that was the point. It’s a live-action adaptation of a cartoon, so of course the main villain and certain scenarios are going to give off that vibe. Even having Scooby brought to life through CGI was necessary, I mean, look at how he moves about in the show, it makes the movie all the more perfect. It also brings up the question of what happens to the criminals after they served their time in prison. Honestly, it brought up a number scenarios that I never thought about when I was growing up. While I never researched the previous roles of the main actors and actresses (I was only a child at the time), I feel like they did an amazing job bringing the gang to life. All-in-all, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleased is the live-action Scooby-Doo! movie to watch.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) - IMDb
Photo from imdb.com

With the current events that we’re going through (the ongoing pandemic), I was able to visit some of other shows that were available. At the moment, I was able to watch some episodes from Scooby-Doo! Where Are You?, What’s New Scooby Doo?, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. It was fun to see the difference in not just the animation, but how the main characters are written and what mysteries they’ll solve. The monsters were both terrifying and intriguing in both their design and the lore that surrounded them. From what I’ve seen so far, Mystery Incorporated definitely has an all-around focus on the characters, the story, and the mysteries. Everything is connected in some shape or form, which definitely keeps the viewers engaged. Even with all of that, there’s still plenty of classic Scooby-Doo humor sprinkled throughout the episodes.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (TV Series 2010–2013) - IMDb
Photo from imdb.com

With What’s New Scooby-Doo?, it felt like a refreshing upgrade to the show that started it all: Scooby Doo! Where are You?. It’s not just with the animation quality and the voice acting, the characters felt more fleshed out. In each episode, the main gang and the side characters had their own personality. I’m not saying that they didn’t have any personality in the original show, it just feels like more effort was put into it. Like every show of Scooby-Doo!, the monsters were fascinating to watch on screen, some being classic monsters from the original show. While the classic first show will always remain as, well, a classic, What’s New Scooby Doo? gives off the feeling that it was what Scooby-Doo! Where are You? strived to be back then.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOREVER: WHAT'S NEW, SCOOBY-DOO?
photo from saturdaymorningsforever.com

Other than re-watching What’s New Scooby-Doo? and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the most recent thing, that was Scooby-Doo! related, was when the show did a crossover episode with long-running series Supernatural in the legendary episode Scoobynatural. Fans of both series, including cast members, had been waiting for some type of crossover to happen. In season 13 of Supernatural, fans finally saw their fantasy become a reality, and honestly, it’s definitely one of the best episodes and one of my favorites in Supernatural. Not only was this the only animated episode (which clearly had so much effort put into it), but the episode was more enjoyable knowing how much of a fan Sam and Dean Winchester were of the show. Like Monsters Unleashed, it answered questions about what would happen if the two worlds collided and the characters. I feel like, even if you haven’t caught up with the show, you could watch it without worrying too much about getting lost on any key plot points. Other than the recap at the start of the episode, it doesn’t leave new viewers scratching their heads in confusion.

Scoobynatural | Supernatural Wiki | Fandom
Photo from supernatural.fandom.com

While Joe Ruby’s time on earth has ended, the show he has helped create will live on forever. The numerous pieces of pop and geek culture that were inspired by his work and the various crossovers in shows will also continue to carry on his legacy. The way Scooby-Doo! has impacted our lives will forever remain in our memories. Joe Ruby, we thank you for being part of the creation of such a beautiful series with many different styles of telling the story of Scooby and the gang’s adventures.

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy – Seige – REVIEW

dunnununununun-nununununun- Dun nun nun nun nuhnun…

We all know the theme song…

Transformers. Toys to sell to Kids.
Transformers. We really sell to Nerds!
Grab your wallet to help us pay for all our rent.
Transformers!


Transformers: War of Cybertron is a 2010 video game developed by High Moon Studios.

Try not to cry, Aaron. Try not to cry…

Wait a minute…

If Robots in Disguise can steal titles, so can we….

Transformers: Siege, is the first chapter of a planned trilogy set to be released on Netflix’s streaming platform, to coincide with Hasbro’s latest line of toys and merchandise related to everyone’s favorite transforming alien robots. The show is developed by Hasbro and Rooster Teeth, with animation by Polygon Pictures— the same studio responsible for the critically acclaimed Transformers: Prime TV show

Unlike most Transformers stories, Siege is set on a war torn Cybertron during the final days of the Cybertronian Civil War. The story is told in six 25-minute episodes and can be binge-watched within 2-3 hours.

If you are a big Transformers fan like I am, this show is a blast to watch as it takes elements from the Classic Generation One cartoon, the live-action films, and even from the IDW comics to blend them into a gritty, action packed world. The story seems to be Rooster Teeth’s take on the Aligned continuity. Hasbro has been implementing this continuity on every other subsequent Transformers storyline, since the first War for Cybertron game.

Remember that opening scene from the Bumblebee movie? This is that; but we get more of it here. Fans have waited for a transformers show/movie that didn’t rely on human characters to tell the story, but instead focused more on the robots in disguise. Fans really don’t want to see humans in movies anymore. They just want to watch two factions of badass transforming robots blow each other up, minus Michael Bay.

ANIMATION

Elita takes aim at Bumblebee after telling her that Frenzy is blue…

The animation for this show is pretty neat. The characters are heavily influenced by Generation One‘s classic designs, but modified with a gritty finish to fit the darker tone of the story. I love the cool, heavily “battle-damaged” look, present on all Transformers, as it gives them all personality, and a sense of history. Their paint jobs are faded and scratched; you get the sense that these bots have seen better days. In some cases, like Megatron, they’ll have scars or bullet holes on their thick Cybertronian armor that really sells the war torn look. It felt like the War has taken its toll on its people, and it adds a level of grittiness to the dark atmosphere Siege is trying to establish.

One of the cool things about this show’s character models is the fact that the Animation team used Hasbro’s original blueprints for the War for Cybertron Trilogy toyline (Transformers. Toys to sell to kids…). Which means the character models you see on the screen are SUPER toy accurate, down to the smallest peg that connects an Autobot’s crotch to his chest when in vehicle mode. It’s not a pleasant image, but it happens sometimes.

As cool as that sounds, it does affect the animation quality quite a bit, as it makes some of the characters’s movements feel stiff and unnatural. The character movements become “janky” when animated in prolonged hand-to-hand combat sequences. Sometimes, parts would distort in an unnatural way, breaking the illusion of sturdy war machines. For example, Optimus Prime’s hips would have this weird “rubbery” animation whenever he walked, and it becomes distracting when you notice it. There was also a number of asset reuse in the show that is hard to ignore. Meaning, you’ll see many characters share the same body model but painted with a different color. Though this was expected for the Seeker Armada, having multiple copies of Reflector as a generic Decepticon lackey proved to be distracting. Here’s to hoping that we’ll get more unique designs in later episodes.

VOICE ACTING

The voice acting lacked impact and left much to be desired.

Peter Cullen and Frank Welker did not reprise their respective roles as Optimus Prime and Megatron. Instead, Jake Foushee and Jason Marnocha reprise the roles of the Autobot and Decepticon leaders respectively, having also providing voice work for them in Machinima’s Transformers: Prime Wars Trilogy. But we don’t talk about that…

Thank Primus, he doesn’t have a mouth. *shudders*

Peter Cullen and Frank Welker are not always going to be around, so we need to find other voice actors to take up the torch. However, Jake Foushee’s Optimus Prime feels like a cheap imitation of the original, and brings nothing new to the character whatsoever. Optimus Prime was written to be younger and more impatient, but that character development is nothing if the voice acting fails to deliver.

I found it very distracting to listen to Optimus Prime trying to sound like Optimus Prime. Foushee’s performance as the Autobot leader feels shallow and delivery of certain lines felt forced. He’s trying to pull off an impression of Peter Cullen’s Prime, and you can only take the character so far in that way. I would have preferred if he went in a different direction, providing a new different take on the character rather than trying (and failing) to emulate Cullen’s iconic voice.

There’s this line in the first episode that broke the illusion for me. It was a scene where Elita One and Hound suggest killing Bumblebee (who is not an Autobot at this point of the story) to prevent him from revealing the Autobot base to the Decepticons. Optimus was furious with this suggestion and chastises them with the line: “We are not Decepticons!” The delivery honestly made me laugh. Foushee’s Optimus Prime lacks the same gravitas that Cullen brings to the table when portraying the character.

Dem juicy lips tho…

On the other hand, Jason Marnocha’s Megatron was actually pretty good. Though, I do feel that this version of Megatron is a dull comparison to Marnocha’s earlier portrayal of the Decepticon leader in the Prime Wars trilogy. In that series, Megatron had a more jovial personality, who takes pride in himself, and contrasted Optimus Prime’s stoic and reserved personality. He lacked that trait this time around, but he did offer a more reserved version of Megatron that is walking the line between an honorable leader with an iron fist, and power-hungry tyrant hellbent on revenge. This Megatron did remind me of Corey Burton’s portrayal of the character in Transformers: Animated, which is my favorite interpretation of Megatron aside from Frank Welker.

Sorry David Kaye. But Come on, Corey Burton knocked it out of the park. I still love you though.

Cullen and Welker aren’t immortals and we need someone to take up the mantle. I believe that Garry Chalk and David Kaye would have been better choices to reprise the roles of Optimus and Megatron respectively as they have become synonymous with those characters post-G1, from Beast Wars to the Unicron Trilogy. They were the voice actors for Optimus and Megatron that I grew up with. They brought a different take on those characters that made them instant fan favorites. Just watch this scene below…

No one:
Optimus Prime: OUR WORLDS ARE IN DANGER…

I would rather have original and new takes on those characters than getting cheap imitations of Cullen and Welker’s versions. Just sayin’.

As for the other characters, I didn’t really have too much of a problem, since they didn’t have long enough screen times to truly stand out. But there were characters that were too difficult to ignore, namely Shockwave and Soundwave. Shockwave sounds like a generic villain devoid of personality, and Soundwave, quite plainly, just sounds bad. They did not do a good job emulating the iconic Soundwave voice. Most of his dialogue was inaudible and you really can’t tell what he was saying without subtitles. Their attempt to execute a proper distorted Soundwave voice fails miserably, making it the most inferior Soundwave incarnation to date. (And I love Soundwave…)

Shout out to Frank Todaro for being an entertaining Starscream. He had that Chris Latta Starscream feel to his delivery that I always enjoy in any new iteration of the treacherous Seeker Commander. I’m eager to see where the showrunners take the character in future episodes.

STORY

Now what about the story? Is it any good?

This looks familiar…

The story begins with Bumblebee and Wheeljack looking for Energon, just like in the first episode of the Generation One cartoon. However, this time around, Bumblebee is not an Autobot at the beginning. Instead, he identifies himself as a scavenger who doesn’t want any part of the War. Megatron criticizes him for being a coward in the first episode, comparing him to Wheeljack who weaars “his allegiance and fate with pride.” It’s a new cynical take on Bumblebee that breathes some new life to the character. Bumblebee is usually optimistic, and is often the “kid appeal” character, so it’s nice to see him depicted as a reluctant hero this time around.

The Autobots are scavenging for Energon in an attempt to leave Cybertron using the Ark, a massive Cybertronian Ship that acts as the Autobot’s Headquarters. Bumblebee leads Wheeljack to an abandoned warehouse, where they discover an old space bridge and ambushed by Decepticon Seekers and Megatron.

I may not turn into a gun, but I assure you, I’m capable of “Bang!”

Siege is a very good start to the trilogy and sets up a classic Transformer storyline with a darker atmosphere. I love how we see the Autobots in their darkest hour here. They have always been the underdogs ever since the cartoons, and seeing them lose the War for Cybertron creates this dystopic 1984-eque setting, with ole Buckethead Megs as its Big Brother. It’s a great way of showing the audience that the stakes are high, and the Autobots are hanging on by a mere thread.

However, I feel that this series’ strength is in its characters rather than the actual plot. The Allspark is introduced in episode 2, turning the story into yet another “hunt for a McGuffin”, a trope that the Transformers franchise has become known for. Yes, the Allspark is a big part of TF lore. The events surrounding the Allspark and its ejection into space, has become the new standard for transitioning the Autobot-Decepticon War on Cybertron to Earth. But I hoped that they avoided this story element for the first season, and established a “guerilla warfare” story line in its stead, where the Autobots are truly on the brink of extinction. The Allspark made for a cartoonish plot device that made the story feel very predictable at certain times. Though it does have offer some twists and turns along the way.

I love how the characters interact in this story specifically with how certain Autobots and Decepticons interact with one another when occupying the same scene. You have a moment in which they are fighting with words rather than blasters. It’s philosophical warfare that you don’t really see that often in the series and I appreciate that the show runners included that aspect into the series. I do, however, feel that the Decepticons have a stronger argument than the Autobots. The Decepticons fought against a very corrupt caste system on Cybertron that determined one’s function in Cybertron society based on alternate forms. The concept of depicting Megatron as a gladiator that inspired and led a movement against Cybertron’s unjust class structure was borrowed from the IDW Transformers comic, and has become a standard in many origin stories in later iterations.

Yeah, Transformers have politics.

Optimus throws the word “freedom” around and doesn’t really justify it properly in the story. We know that Megatron cares about his cause and sees it noble, despite wanting to destroy the Autobot bourgeoisie. Megatron is essentially a Cybertronian version of Lenin and Stalin in this story.

Til All are One, comrade.

We have a lot of characters that don’t really get enough time to shine, but we enjoy every second they appear on screen. I feel that they wanted to include every Transformer ever, even if they couldn’t, and I appreciated that. Bumblebee disappears for half of the series only to return when he becomes a McGuffin; Ratchet becomes this independent Cybertronian medic who’s grown weary of the war and helps out any Cybertronian in need regardless of faction; and Jetfire’s transition from Decepticon to Autobot calls back to the character’s arc in the original G1 cartoon. This version of Jetfire is not like the docile scientist in G1, instead he is Starscream’s predecessor as Decepticon Seeker Commander who values honor above anything else. But the one character who gets her time in the limelight is Elita One, and by Primus, it’s about time.

Optimus: Would you like me to play “The Touch” while you make your debut, my love?
Elita: Do it.

Elita One is my favorite character in this entire series thus far. She is the most fleshed out Autobot aside from Optimus, and serves as a very good foil to Optimus. For those who are uncultured in Transformers deep lore, sit down cause I’m about to educate you. Elita One is essentially Optimus Prime’s female counterpart. That means two things: 1) she is a capable leader and just as noble as Optimus; and 2) she is Optimus Prime’s significant other. She is the first female Transformer introduced to canon in the original Generation One cartoon. She debuted in the episode “War Dawn,” where the Aerial Bots time traveled to Cybertron before the War and where the viewers learned the origin of Optimus Prime. I can ramble on about deep lore, but I’m not going to do that. BUT, if you want the basics on Elita One’s origins, check out Chris McFeely’s video on YouTube.

Yeah, these two together on screen brings me joy.

[Spoilers from here on out. You’ve been warned. If you don’t want spoilers, skip down until you see the Autobot/Decepticon transition video]

I’ve always considered Elita One to be Optimus’s true second in command. Siege brings that concept back but fleshes out her character a bit more than they did in the original G1 cartoon. Linsay Rousseau does a phenomenal job of bringing Optimus Prime’s most trusted ally to life. Elita offers Optimus emotional support while giving him military counsel, often questioning Optimus Prime’s decisions motivated mostly by desperation. The writers could’ve done a better job with how Optimus handled Elita’s military counsel. Optimus seemed to ignore most of her advise rather than actually taking them into account.

Elita One was, in a sense, Optimus Prime’s moral compass. She is not a perfect character by any means. I feel that she ends nagging Optimus when she becomes the new military commander of the Autobots. I feel that because the show runners decided to kill Ultra Magnus, in order to promote Elita to the position of second-in-command, the character struggled with juggling her duties as military commander and moral compass for the Autobot leader. Since Elita One became a military commander, a role that often requires compromising one’s morals to achieve victory in warfare, she couldn’t fulfill the role of moral compass to its full extent. Despite this, it gave her character some depth that I didn’t expect, and I welcomed that.

I don’t understand why they killed Magnus this early on. If Magnus stayed around longer, we would have had an interesting dynamic between the three leaders of the Autobots. Magnus and Elita would offer two different solutions to a problem, and Optimus would have to choose or come up with a compromise. Ultra Magnus could have been a cynical advisor, while Elita served as an optimistic counter. Optimus would then be the mediator for both sides. It would’ve been interesting to watch that dynamic unfold, and could’ve served as a reasonable factor for Magnus’ surrender to the Decepticons.

There were many twists in the series to keep classic fans on their toes, but nothing too radical. It’s Transformers, just the way we like it.

[SPOILERS END HERE]

Overall, this was a great first chapter to get fans excited for the next two installments. It has just enough G1 nostalgia to satisfy old fans, and enough new elements to attract newcomers to the series. I feel that hardcore fans of the franchise will appreciate this series more, but casuals can still find this show to be an entertaining watch.

Though the story becomes a pretty basic McGuffin story, the characters are interesting enough to keep you watching. Elita One is definitely the breakout character of this series, with Bumblebee taking the back seat this time around. The animation evokes nostalgia for the classic cartoons and provides a neat image of watching your action figures come to life. It is not completely perfect and the voice work lacks enough of an impact to be all that memorable. Hopefully, whatever this first chapter lacked will be remedied in later seasons.

Transformers: War for Cybertron – Seige is now available for streaming only on Netflix.

Harley Quinn is the Future of DC

Like (and with) a bat out of hell, Harley Quinn has been iconic since her animated debut. She’s swapped out her jester outfit for pigtails and a crop top, but consistently proves to be a fan-favorite. Despite complaints about Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (or is it Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey?), there has been far-reaching praise for actress Margot Robbie’s on-screen interpretation. She nailed Quinn’s erratic-yet-charismatic obsessiveness, be that for the Clown Prince of Crime or a mouth-watering egg sandwich, while incorporating fierce independence and sympathetic humanity that makes her worth rooting for. Served up with some impressive fight choreography in scenes like the latter film’s stylish police station raid — with Robbie performing many of her own stunts — and Harley Quinn is appetizing enough to stand beside the Justice League as a major player (and not just as an overhashed Halloween costume).

Link Tank: How to Make the Birds of Prey Egg Sandwich | Den of Geek
Credit: Warner Bros.

More broadly, it’s safe to say DC’s recent releases have been pretty hit-or-miss. Quinn and the characters themselves are iconic and universally loved, but the film and TV productions are still as divisive as an Omega Beam. For every hit like Joker, there’s a Suicide Squad which, while having their moments, haven’t stuck the superhero landing. While shows like Titans have garnered followings, they suffer from the same lukewarm reception surrounding shows like The Flash and runs like “Crisis on Infinite Earths”.

Where DC has shown dominance is in animation, with films like Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and Superman: Red Son receiving widespread acclaim. They stay faithful to their source material while taking risks — a balance seemingly harder to strike with every attempt. With the formidable shadow and high expectations ignited by Batman: The Animated Series in the ‘90s, the consistent quality has been surprising and commendable. The original Batman animated series brought a certain bar to meet while also thrusting a certain mallet-wielding, psycho psychologist into the spotlight.

Even with high expectations, one series has burst onto the scene by not only checking the boxes, but far exceeding them. It has solidified Harley’s star status and is more satisfying than even the best breakfast sandwich. Harley Quinn’s simple title reflects how it has boiled down the character to her essentials. The adult animated series just wrapped up its second season, leaving a ridiculous amount to be praised in its wake.

Harley Quinn and Her Team of Super Villains - YouTube
Credit: DC Universe

Much like her solo film, the series follows Harley as she explores newfound freedom after having broken things off with the Joker. More specifically, it focuses on her mission to assemble a crew and to be taken seriously as a supervillain. The clearest difference between the show and other DC properties is its flexibility, poking fun at the characters fans have grown to love while still treating them with respect through believable arcs and development. Brash quips blend perfectly with plain hysterical modifications of classic heroes and villains, including an English Scarecrow, a thespian Clayface and an emotionally dependent, alcoholic Commissioner Gordon.

Quinn, voiced by Kaley Cuoco, doesn’t sport as strong a Brooklyn accent as Robbie, but overwhelmingly succeeds in capturing Harley’s explosive energy. The voice takes getting used to like the show’s brazen humor, yet feels just right only a few episodes in. Cuoco is especially praiseworthy for her voicework, navigating seamless conversations between Harley and herself (because she’s crazy, y’know?) and is on the same level as the best interpretations of Quinn. Poison Ivy, voiced by Lake Bell, is also a standout, with Bell bringing a surprising amount of humanity to a character supposed to hate humanity as Harley’s other — more reasonable — half. Ron Funches’s King Shark, Tony Hale’s Doctor Psycho, Jason Alexander’s Sy Borgman, and Alan Tudyk’s Clayface and Joker are easy contenders for the best versions of their characters ever put to the screen — and that’s just the main crew. There are so many others worth mentioning, but stated simply: the voice cast is stacked.

Watch Harley Quinn Season 1 on DC Universe
Credit: DC Universe

With its mad hijinks — bar mitzvah crashing and sorority girl impersonating come to mind — the show has to walk a fine line if it wants mature elements like a love triangle to be taken somewhat seriously. In Harley Quinn, every character change is earned, every obstacle feels like a real threat and it becomes clear early on that every character is at risk. Not only that, but more obscure characters are given the chance to shine. When a pitiful joke like Kite Man can not only be relatively respected and liked, but also one of the show’s most emotionally complex characters, something is working.

Often visceral in its action but smooth enough to inspire a love for its style, the animation meets the level of quality expected from a DC animated series and is more than a suitable vehicle for showing off the show’s other strengths. Many classic designs are updated, be that Ivy’s new favorite jacket or some grander, comical physical developments regarding a certain character’s killer calves. The same line of thinking is applied to the plot; showrunners Patrick Schumacker, Justin Halpern and Dean Lorey include many elements from classic comic runs. But, especially by the second season, these concepts are entirely their own and unique.

DC Universe Will Pursue A 'Harley Quinn' Romance With Poison Ivy
Credit: DC Universe


It wraps up with the grace of an ex-gymnast and a praiseworthy ending, leaving open the opportunity to continue Harley’s story. A third season is yet to be confirmed — it’s up to the fans now. Anyone seeking a fresh reminder of the versatility, comedy and sheer ingenuity brought to the table by DC’s best, look no further than the Maid of Mischief. Watch Harley Quinn.

5 Rick and Morty Episodes for Those Who’ve Never Seen the Show

After four seasons and nearly seven years on the air, Rick and Morty has become one of the most popular shows on television and has continually pushed the boundaries on what can be accomplished in adult animation. The show has amassed a legion of fans who are extremely loyal but can sometimes get rabid between seasons. For those who have never seen the show, its cult-like following is likely all they are aware of; and accordingly, when you become a fan of Rick and Morty, you want to show it off to anyone and everyone you know. For fans who are wanting to put the show on to their friends, or for those just curious and want to get the gist of things, here are the five best episodes to watch. 

PICKLE RICK (S3E3)

Chances are that even if you’ve never seen a single second of Rick and Morty, you still know about the “Pickle Rick” episode. The vegetable version of Rick Sanchez quickly became a figment of pop culture and helped the show gain a ton of mainstream exposure. But for those who have only heard of the one they call “Solenya”, it is overlooked how great the episode truly is. Though on the surface it seems like a dumb idea of Rick merely turning himself into a pickle, it is surprisingly one of the most action-packed episodes and reveals a lot of the emotional dysfunction in the Smith family as they go to therapy. “Pickle Rick” is the quintessential Rick and Morty episode and a perfect choice as an introduction to the show.

Reasons to watch: Well-known in pop culture and mostly unrelated to the overarching story; won the series its first and only Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 2018.

MEESEEKS AND DESTROY (S1E5)

Like any great show, Rick and Morty has gotten progressively better, but the oldest of episodes should still be explored to get a reference for how far it has come. The most popular episode of Season 1, “Meeseeks and Destroy” is arguably the earliest example of Rick and Morty setting its own bar for what constitutes as a great episode. The story centers around the Smith family seeking help from Mr. Meeseeks, who originates from one of Rick’s inventions, for a series of tasks until one gets too complicated and things spiral out of control. The episode also finds Morty taking control of him and his grandpa’s next adventure in an effort to prove he is more than a sidekick to Rick. The episode is wacky, random, and darkly funny, but also makes an effort to give some shine to each of the main characters, showing newcomers that Rick and Morty is more than just Rick and Morty. 

Reasons to watch: First classic episode; Mr. Meeseeks is one of the most beloved side characters and returns throughout the show. 

TOTAL RICKALL (S2E4)

If you want you or your friends’ first exposure to Rick and Morty to be completely spoiler-free where you/they will not have to worry about being familiar with any continuing story, then “Total Rickall” is your go-to episode. When alien parasites take the form of zany, wacky characters and multiply through false memories implanted in the Smith family’s heads, it’s up to the family to regain control of what’s fact and fiction and stop them from spreading outside the house. The episode essentially functions as a fake clips show while poking fun of cabin fever tropes. It might not be as popular or grand in scale as the others on this list, but it provides perhaps the best example of the creative range of the people behind the show and lets newcomers know that not every episode is going to be that serious.  

Reasons to watch: Self-contained episode that shows how chaotically unexpected Rick and Morty can get.

EDGE OF TOMORTY: RICK DIE RICKPEAT (S4E1)

If you’d rather dive into one of the most recent Rick and Morty adventures and then do some backtracking (if you like what you see), then the first episode of Season 4 is a great place to start. “Rick Die Rickpeat” is one of the most well-thought-out episodes of the series that includes an enhanced dose of mayhem to go with it. After Rick and Morty find alien crystals that reveal how you die, Morty becomes obsessed with achieving his dream death instead of living in the moment. Meanwhile, Rick finds himself traveling through different realities and interacting with different Ricks and Mortys so he can get back to his own reality and stop Morty from succumbing to the crystal. This episode kicks off the new era of Rick and Morty with a bang and will have newcomers conflicted on whether to continue Season 4 or catch up on everything they’ve been missing.        

Reasons to watch: Kicks off the most recent season with an epic standalone story. 

THE RICKLANTIS MIXUP (S3E7)

“The Ricklantis Mixup”, also known as “Tales from the Citadel”, has the most to do with the show’s expanded lore more than any other episode on this list, but is still worth the watch even there is some slight confusion. The unique trait of this episode is that the Rick and Morty that the show centers around are hardly featured, taking an intriguing turn and exploring the lives of the thousands of Ricks and Mortys in the Citadel of Ricks. The episode provides a look at the impact of social class on the city and some of its more influential Ricks and Mortys, as well as the societal issues plaguing the Citadel. It compacts an entire season of cop drama material into a 30-minute showing and is arguably the darkest entry of the series, which is saying a lot. “The Ricklantis Mixup” probably shouldn’t be someone’s first Rick and Morty adventure but is a great choice if you/they are still feeling skeptical after watching other episodes and want to know how great the creative minds behind it can be. 

Reasons to watch: Arguably the best episode in the series; a relatively autonomous story that expands upon the entire Rick and Morty universe. 

Close Enough: Adult Life Done Right

After years of being stuck in development hell, J.G. Quintel’s adult animation series Close Enough has finally crawled its way into the light. It’s Qunitel’s first main project since his lead work on Regular Show, and while there’s no sign of talking blue jays, raccoons, gumball machines or any other anthropomorphic oddballs, Close Enough takes the torch from its predecessor through its art style. It’s excitingly experimental despite a more grounded focus, pushing its style and sitcom format to their fullest potential.

Quintel voices video game-designing millennial Josh who, along with his wife Emily and his daughter Candice, lives with divorced couple Alex and Bridgette in a cramped apartment in Southern California. Joined by Gabrielle Walsh, Jessica DiCicco, Jason Mantzoukas and Kimiko Glenn, Quintel and the voice crew spice up such riveting aspects of adult life as coupons and rent with ease. Their modern culture-driven banter cashes in on the entire cast’s talented voice work as the family lives paycheck to paycheck, and they have no problem showing off their chemistry in under a quarter of an hour.

Close Enough': Release date, plot, cast, trailer, and all you need ...
Credit: IMDb

The first released episode, “100% No Stress Day,” is packed to the brim and a blast to watch. The 11-minute runtime keeps the episode moving at a breakneck pace with a high-energy introduction as Emily becomes overwhelmed with the stresses of student loans and laundry, establishing the show’s intention to grapple with more adult themes. 

The grown-up gripes by no means detract from the absurd escapism Close Enough offers. When Josh offers to tackle Emily’s to-do list to give her some time to relax, a simple outing jumps from a flashback sequence of a lost bet involving disturbingly buff stripper clowns to the characters’ kidnapping by the equivalent of a supermarket ham mafia — all while Emily and Bridgette decide to hotbox a car in a mesmerizing montage of hallucinations, hot dogs and leapfrog until Emily’s trip goes sour. That’s without mentioning the giant, virtual Kevin Costner head. 

For everything going on, the episode remains easy (enough) to follow, astoundingly managing to weave these points into a coherent climax — it needs to be seen for itself. 

Close Enough
Credit: WarnerMedia

Between the hamburglars and bad trips, the show’s heart stands out. The characters are blatantly flawed but easily likable and relatable. Instead of pushing for escapism by disregarding the stresses of adult life, Close Enough roots itself in and embraces them. It’s not focused on teaching its audience a lesson, either. It takes viewers along for the ride, and that’s more than enough. The misfit family’s life is by no means perfect — but there’s something comforting in them enjoying themselves in the overpriced, man-bun and hot yoga-riddled playground of SoCal regardless.

At this rate, Close Enough will have no problem becoming beloved, especially since Regular Show’s original fans are likely starting to experience adulthood’s stresses themselves. The first episode is available for purchase on the online Annecy Film Festival and the full season begins streaming July 9th on HBO Max.