TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 03

 

Hooray! Todd Episode! Poster
Helpful to a fault, Todd is spread thin doing favors for Princess Carolyn, Mr. Peanutbutter and a visitor with a potential connection to BoJack.

Director:

Aaron Long

Writers:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator), Elijah Aron |1 more credit »

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

Review by Mary Cox

“Hooray! Todd Episode!”

Asexuality is something that hasn’t really been addressed in any mainstream form of media up until this point in time. There’s a lot of controversy about what asexuality really is, or how to define it as an orientation. In spite of this, Bojack Horseman is actually doing a great job with handling Todd’s exploration of his sexuality, and with depicting asexuals as normal human beings who aren’t the result of malfunctioning biology or dysfunctional personalities.

Again, there’s an issue with congruence of ideas in this episode. The undercurrent of Todd seeking to prioritize his own self-care, while also trying to manage his personal and professional relationships almost comes together. However, between Mr. Peanutbutter’s campaign, Princess Carolyn’s struggle to conceive, and Bojack’s long-lost daughter, there’s just so much happening this season that even in a literal “Todd Episode,” there’s no real room to focus on the inner-life of this character.

It seems like because the show has become less and less Bojack-centric that there’s now a serious lack of focus and structure. Bojack Horseman has never really been an ensemble show, and transferring it over to that structural format is an interesting experiment. Despite the efforts to keep the series fresh and original, right now, it doesn’t seem like Bojack Horseman is a show with a host of concurrent and carefully structured plot lines. Instead, we have a great big bunch of loose and hanging threads that are more tangled than tied together.

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 02

 

The Old Sugarman Place Poster
BoJack goes off the grid and winds up at his grandparents’ dilapidated home in Michigan where he reflects on his family legacy and befriends another soul haunted by the past.

Writers:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator), Kate Purdy

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

Review by Mary Cox

“The Old Sugarman Place”

Bojack is back! The second episode of this series sits somewhat uncomfortably for me. “The Old Sugarman Place” seems to be jumping back a little from the weight and drama of the previous season, but it’s right now, it feels the direction of the show is kind of still in limbo. Bojack Horseman is half-in and half-out of being a serious drama.

In the flashback scenes with Bojack’s grandparents, the recurring “it’s the past, so everyone is sexist” jokes start to wear a little thin. This isn’t because the repeated references to “womb problems” are offensive or in bad taste, but it’s that the jokes are somewhat one note. After the fourth or fifth antiquated riff, this episode starts to somewhat literally beat a dead horse.

Bojack’s grandmother getting lobotomized at the end of the episode is melodramatic and out of place. This scene is clearly supposed to be evocative of Rosemary Kennedy, the younger sister of JFK who was famously lobotomized against her will, but certain tragedies don’t translate when it comes to cartoon horses. Touching on such a dark and serious topic would be okay if it wasn’t just a throwaway moment in a flashback, but the way Bojack Horseman handles this scenario makes the weight and tragedy of the lobotomy somewhat cheap and unnecessary.

Clearly, there exists a balance between comedy and tragedy, and in the past, Bojack Horseman has successfully walked that line. However, things aren’t looking so hot based on how the content of this episode has been handled. There’s a chance that the flashbacks at the Sugarman cabin will have some greater thematic significance later in the season, but I’m not holding my breath.

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: BOJACK HORSEMAN – SEASON 04 – EPISODE 01

 

See Mr. Peanutbutter Run Poster
Mr PeanutButter starts his campaign for Governor of California and starts by challenging the current governor to a ski race while Bojack is no where to be found.

Director:

Amy Winfrey

Writers:

Raphael Bob-Waksberg (creator),

Stars:

Will ArnettAmy SedarisAlison Brie

Review by Mary Cox

“See Mr. Peanutbutter Run”

After last season’s bombshell with the death of Sara Lynn, Bojack Horseman seems to be pivoting away from heavy drama and is returning to more of the lighthearted comedy featured in the first season of the series. Bojack himself is still missing in this episode, but it’s unlikely that he’s going to pull an Agent Cooper and not show up until late in the game.

This season of Bojack Horseman is shaping up to be heavily political, as the California gubernatorial race is pretty obviously taking a page from the 2016 Presidential Election. Mr. Peanutbutter has never really been depicted as a sinister character in the past, but something tells me that drawing a parallel between Peanutbutter and Trump is pretty telling about the direction this season is going to take.

It’s almost impossible to make something now that doesn’t touch on the surreal political climate we’re all desperately trapped inside, but I’m wondering how close to home we’re really going to get here. Can we expect another Cosby episode, where contemporary hot topics like covered-up abuse and sexism in the film industry itself is addressed? Or is this going to be a broader and more general look at the world we now live in?
 

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: TIM AND ERIC’S BEDTIME STORIES – SEASON 02 – EPISODE 02

 

The Duke Poster
 Directors:

Writers:

Tim Heidecker (created by), T 

Stars:

Tim HeideckerEric WareheimIsaac Cheung

Review by Mary Cox

“The Duke”

The image of a casino exclusively for scratcher cards is amusing enough, but like all of Wareheim and Heidecker’s work, the point you should consider is the “heart of fear” in this episode. This episode features Ray Wise of Twin Peaks fame, who previously has appeared worked with Eric Wareheim as the starring role in his video for “Wishes” by dream-pop duo Beach House. There’s something about Wise’s natural charisma that lends itself to surrealist media, and his performance, alongside Rhea Perlman and Jorge Garcia, should not be missed.

Bedtime Stories works fundamentally because it plays on our deepest fears and insecurities. On one hand, there’s the surface story about the casino and learning to live with a lie, but that’s not what makes “The Duke” so unsettling. When looking at this narrative specifically from a masculine perspective, this story is very obviously about a fear of cuckoldry and emasculation. Whereas “Baklava” was about the externalized issue of saving someone from themselves, “The Duke” focuses on personal loss of agency via impotence and forced submission.

This is the reason why Bedtime Stories is sometimes described as “hit or miss.” The terror and discomfort doesn’t necessarily “kick in” unless your personal issues and insecurities are up to bat. Even if you’re not afraid of losing your wife to another man, or you’ve never struggled to keep someone’s head above the waters of mental illness or addiction, everyone has some kind of deep-seated anxiety or raw nerve. Give it time. Wareheim and Heidecker will get to you and your issues as well.

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

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TV REVIEW: TIM AND ERIC’S BEDTIME STORIES – SEASON 02 – EPISODE 01

 

Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories Poster
Tim and Eric’s parody of horror anthology TV shows.

Stars:

Tim HeideckerEric WareheimZach Galifianakis

Review by Mary Cox

“Baklava”

The second season of Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker’s spiritual successor to both Awesome Show, Great Job and Check It Out! is back in action. Anthology horror series are becoming more and more popular with the success of films like V/H/S, creating more room on television for the release of shorts and limited one-offs.

Wareheim and Heidecker’s work balances in that space between humor and discomfort, but Bedtime Stories goes beyond cringe comedy and delves into the realm of the surreal. The framing narrative of “Baklava” about a man trying to get a bonus at work to pay off his daughter’s kidnappers matters only because it gives us a context for the surreal events that follow. This episode feels like an anxiety dream, where uncertainty reigns and dread looms.

Looking beyond the surface of this episode, there’s a clear parable here about the difficulty of living with people who suffer from addictions, and about the pain and futility of constantly pulling someone you care about back from the edge over and over again. This series functions incredibly well because it taps into real fears and anxieties. Bedtime Stories uses comedy to comfortably burrow into us just deep enough that it can still tap on our nerves when it wants.

 

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TIM AND ERIC'S BEDTIME STORIES 1

TV REVIEW: RICK AND MORTY – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 07

The Ricklantis Mixup Poster
RICK AND MORTY S3 EP7 – 

The Ricklantis Mixup

Rick and Morty go to The Lost City of Atlantis.

Director:

Dominic Polcino

Review by Mary Cox

I’ve previously criticized this series for getting too far up it’s own ass with melodrama and family dynamics, but other than in fleeting moments, we’ve never seen a true dramatic episode like “The Ricklantis Mixup” before. Like any good sci-fi, this episode was highly topical and touched on a ton of contemporary issues, including police brutality, racial prejudice, class inequality, and the looming threat of authoritarian takeovers.

Rick and Morty has never shied away from heavy content. The series has followed the collapse of Beth and Jerry’s marriage, Morty’s sexual assault at the hands of Mr. Jellybean, and Rick’s attempted suicide. In the past, a shift from comedy to drama has been the death knell for several Adult Swim series, but the rabid popularity of Rick and Morty means its creators have a greater license to experiment with their show and its content.

The return of Evil Eye Patch Morty from “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind” is a part of the greater shift to post-postmodernism that is surfacing in adult animation. It is a continuation of David Foster Wallace’s concept of New Sincerity, an honest and empathetic iteration of nihilism that has been divorced from the irony, skepticism and cynicism characteristic of postmodernist works. Rick and Morty both acknowledges and rejoices in the fact that life has no existential meaning.

It’s pretty weighty stuff from a series that started off as a Back to the Future parody, but at the same time, that’s exactly why Rick and Morty is what it is. At heart, this series, and several other post-postmodernist works, are a Millennial rejection of Gen X’s culture of apathy and cynicism. It is a casting off of self-satisfied irony, self-reference, and insincerity in drama.

the rickantis mixup

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TV REVIEW: TWIN PEAKS – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 18

Part 18 Poster
Cooper and Diane drive 430 miles. Cooper attempts to help a troubled woman he believes to be Laura Palmer.

Director:

David Lynch

Stars:

Kyle MacLachlanMatt BattagliaLaura Dern

by Mary Cox

“Part 18: What is your name?”

Anyone hoping for a satisfying conclusion to the series is going to be sorely disappointed as David Lynch has decided to leave us with yet another cliffhanger. After Agent Cooper and Diane manage to jump dimensions (or something) and after yet another awkward sex scene, we learn that the Fireman’s
aforementioned Richard and Linda are none other than Diane and Coop themselves. So much for my Richard Horne theory, right?

Again, Mike (The One-Armed Man) gives us the ultimate question and central theme of this season: is it future, or is it past? The episode ends abruptly with an uncertain conclusion. This seems to be the fate of all of the Blue Rose operatives. Once they get close enough to unraveling the mystery of Judy and
the Owl Cave Ring, their reality is pulled apart and reshaped by an unseen force. Consider both the fates of Major Briggs and Phillip Jeffries.

Unanswered questions: What the hell is up with Audrey? I have a theory that the Peaks world we know, where Cooper is still Cooper, and Laura is dead and wrapped in plastic, exists only in Audrey’s coma mind. I think that the symbol on the Owl Cave Ring is meant to reference the concept of either looping time or infinity, but what does that mean for Cooper? Who are Tina and Billy? The only good news about the ending of this episode is that it leaves open the possibility for a fourth season. This is highly unlikely, but hey, you never know what’s going to happen in another twenty-five years.

My takeaway here is still that the majority of the episodes this season (and possibly those from the first two seasons) are meant to be read as existing in a “dreamworld,” so to speak. From the all-tooconvenient ways Dougie escapes from disasters, leading all the way up to the too-perfect reunion of the characters right at the Twin Peaks sheriff office in “Part 17,” everything that went down was a part of someone’s dream. The question posed by Monica Bellucchi in “Part 14” does remain, though: “Who is the dreamer?” As I’ve mentioned before, this “false dream reality” storytelling device is something David Lynch has used in his past works pretty consistently. We’ve seen it as a major element in both
Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway. That absolutely could be what’s going on here as well.

Ultimately, if you want to try to figure out what the hell is going on: my recommendation that you take a break from Twin Peaks for a few weeks. When you’re ready, come back and revisit the series from start to finish (it goes without saying that you also have to include Fire, Walk With Me) and see what
you think Twin Peaks is really all about. We now (presumably) have all of the pieces of the puzzle, so it’s up to you to try and put it together to see the whole picture.
 

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TV REVIEW: TWIN PEAKS – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 17

Part 17 Poster
Cooper arrives in Twin Peaks.

Director:

David Lynch

Writers:

Mark FrostDavid Lynch  >

Stars:

Kyle MacLachlanJay AasengDana Ashbrook

by Mary Cox

“Part 17: The past dictates the future.”

A hell of a lot happened in the penultimate episode of Twin Peaks. Cooper has finally defeated Bad Coop with the help of our literal Hand of God character, Freddie. Naido is revealed to be the real Diane, who has an emotional reunion with our favorite FBI agent.

Here’s the thing: I’m still not convinced that anything that everything or anything this season has actually “happened.” When looking over how everything has gone down this season, and especially when we consider the superimposed face of Cooper as he says, “We live inside a dream,” directly to the audience, it seems like Lynch is kind of pulling a Mulholland Drive here. Everything has been too easy, or too convenient for these characters. Lynch is mocking our need for a cute and tied together ending with the scene at the Twin Peaks sheriff station where all our beloved characters, old and new, are uniting or reuniting at last.

Audrey’s appearance at the Roadhouse in last week’s episode, where the final scene was her appearing in an odd, white room, has still gone unexplained. There’s a considerable amount of unfinished business regarding the Fireman’s prophecy of “Richard and Linda, two birds, one stone,” which can only really
point to the mysterious electricity bolder that killed Richard Horne last episode.

Part of me thinks that Season 3 of Twin Peaks is a response to the demand for a continuation of the series. I’ve had this running theory that Lynch is critical of the concept of nostalgia, which is why Agent Cooper spent almost the entirety of this season as Dougie, and why the heart-warming Twin Peaks reunion scene was shadowed with doubt and unease. Lynch leaves us with the pinnacle of self-satisfied nostalgic rehashing as Cooper fulfills his ultimate goal of trying to save Laura Palmer herself.

However, as revealed by Sarah Palmer’s outburst, Cooper isn’t the only agent in this game any more. Is Sarah actually possessed by the entity Judy? Are Judy and the Jumping Man one in the same? Where the hell is Audrey, and is any of this actually happening

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TV REVIEW: TWIN PEAKS – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 16

twin_peaks_13“Part 16: No Knock, No Doorbell”

Big Ed and Norma have a relationship breakthrough. Evil Cooper tries to reconnect with an old friend, while Dougie Jones reaches an electrifying discovery.

Director: David Lynch
Writers: Mark Frost, David Lynch
Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Jay Aaseng, Joe Adler

Review by Gilbert Seah

Cooper’s back! After almost an entire season of the stumbling adventures of Dougie Coop, our beloved FBI agent is awake and back in action. However, Dougie’s departure from the world leaves a few loose ends. This episode was Biore pore strip levels of satisfying.

This season has had a running theme of family relationships, like in “Part 12” when absent fathers were a major theme. “Part 16” seems to focus again on fathers leaving their families in different ways.

Biologically speaking, Cooper technically has (or had, in Richard’s case) two sons: Sonny Jim and Richard Horne. Lynch likes to play with the idea of parallels and opposites, so it’s no surprise to see both Bad Coop and Real Coop departing from their children in drastically separate ways. Real Coop did save the “seed” that is apparently required to create a new tulpa, so it’s possible that he’s going to manufacture a brand new Dougie to take his place.

Speaking of tulpas: Diane wasn’t really Diane! Does that mean that all tulpas are aware that they are manufactured beings on some level? Did Dougie know he wasn’t real? And is the real Diane alive somewhere? After that long, slow look at Gordon Cole in his computer room, I was terrified that Diane was going to kill him before his reunion with Cooper. Unfairness is out of character in Lynch’s work, but anything can happen this close to the end of the series.

Audrey is officially confirmed to exist in some kind of alternate reality! I’m still banking on this being a coma or a mental health thing, possibly attributed to her being raped and impregnated by Bad Coop while she was in the hospital. That can’t possibly be good for you. I’m relieved that Audrey didn’t actually end up as a trampled version of her former self, trapped in a toxic relationship with a tiny egg man, but it’s clear that she’s still unable to escape from whatever is holding her hostage. It might be a Josie Packard thing where Audrey’s soul is physically stuck inside of an object. Maybe it’s that one
booth we keep seeing at The Roadhouse?

There is one thread that’s been dangling all season. Way back in “Part 1,” the Fireman told Lodge Coop to remember Richard and Linda. The prior of these names has already been identified in Richard Horne, but Linda’s identity still remains a mystery. It could possibly be that Linda is the wheelchairbound resident of the New Fat Trout Trailer Park that we see referenced in “Part 6,” but even if that’s the case, we still haven’t physically seen this character appear.

Next week is the two-part series finale, and things seem to be coming to a head.

Twin Peaks is the kind of series that has a ton of rewatching potential as Lynch’s work is heavily layered and tied together, so definitely consider revisiting the entire series before the finale next Sunday night

Part 16 No Knock, No Doorbell.jpg

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t

TV REVIEW: RICK AND MORTY – SEASON 03 – EPISODE 06

rest and ricklaxation.jpg“Rest and Ricklaxation”

Rick and Morty need a break.

Directors: Anthony Chun, Wesley Archer
Writers: Tom Kauffman
Stars: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Melique Berger

Review by Gilbert Seah

This week’s episode gave an answer to the question of whether or not Rick actually cares for Morty. We learn that the detoxifying machine only removes parts of your being that you yourself view as a negative attribute. The fact that Rick’s love for Morty was removed along with his alcoholism and nihilism really reveals the extent to which the Sanchez family is emotionally messed up.

Rick and Morty is a show that’s made in it’s funny little moments, like Detox Rick’s apology for burping and Beth taping a horse’s face over Jerry in her wedding picture. The series isn’t too big on running jokes in the way that some Adult Swim shows can be, but one of the weirder recurring motifs of this show seems to be about urination. This is a little offbeat, but hear me out: in “Rest and Ricklaxation,” one of Morty’s classmates makes a passing comment about being into golden showers.

Summer peeing her pants was referenced three times in Season 2 in “A Rickle in Time,” “Total Rickall,” and “Look Who’s Purging Now.” Not to mention, Summer’s invisible best friend is called Tinkles, another allusion to her childhood bed-wetting.

Rick and Morty is a show where the writer’s hangups and anxieties are on full display, so their obsessions and “interests” will obviously come through as well. I’m not directly saying Justin Roiland or Dan Hammond necessarily have a “yellow” fixation, but there’s been a suspiciously high number of references made to women peeing for this to be a mere coincidence.

Rick and Morty will be back in two weeks because of the Labor Day holiday break, but that will give you enough time to mull over the idea that this series is a window into it’s writers souls. What else can we learn about Roiland and Hammond if we take a closer look at this series

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“Mary Cox is an entertainment writer from the United States. Her hobbies include making good beer and bad decisions, watching drag queens fight on the internet, and overanalyzing everything. Mary one day hopes to be the person shouting “World Star” in the back of a Waffle House brawl video. She is currently tolerating life in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter at @M_K_Cox”t