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: 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: 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

TV REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 07 – EPISODE 07 (Season Finale)

the dragon and the wolfA meeting is held in King’s Landing. Problems arise in the North.

Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: David Benioff
Stars: Alfie Allen, Jacob Anderson, Robert Aramayo

Review by Mary Cox

“The Dragon and the Wolf”

Anyone who didn’t see anything that happened last night coming from a mile away needs to get their eyes checked. Game of Thrones has always been a series that’s heavy-handed with its foreshadowing, but the bombs the series dropped tonight have been on our radars for a good while. That doesn’t mean that last night’s bombshell of a season finale was bad! It’s just that things are getting too predictable after seven years, and I miss the wild and unexpected turns we got in the first few seasons, like Jaime losing his hand, and Ned Stark losing his head.

Jon and Dany’s “Boat Ride and Chill” is made a lot weirder when you learn that he’s essentially boning his aunt, but this is par for the course for the Targaryens, who historically like to keep it in the family anyway. Seriously though, how creepy was Tyrion for lurking in the halls and listening in on their
hookup?

I predicted we’d have a big, heart-breaking death in this finale, and I was a little off-course considering how much Littlefinger’s been asking for it since the first season. It’s a little disappointing that Arya only slit his throat, as a full-on Ned Stark style decapitation would have been much more satisfying and tied together.

Now that the Army of the Dead have their Icy Hot dragon, how in the hell is the North going to stand against them? Even though the Night King is outnumbered two to one when it comes to fire lizards, how is Daenerys going to handle fighting and killing one of her own “children”?

Cersei is reaching Nixon-levels of paranoia and scheming, to the point where she’s finally threatened to turn her sword against her own brother. Again, what the series is implying to us through the language of cinema is that Jaime is going to rehash his Kingslayer role before the end of the final season.

This season finale has left us with a monumental cliffhanger (or should I say wall hanger, considering how Tormund barely made it out alive) and with the Night Kings marching in the direct path of Winterfell. My one hope for the final chapter of the series is that they don’t sacrifice story over time like they did with the last few episodes of this season. We’ll have to wait an entire year to find out

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TV REVIEW: GAME OF THRONES – SEASON 07 – EPISODE 06

beyond_the_wall_1.jpgEpisode Titled: Beyond the Wall

Jon and his team go beyond the wall to capture a wight. Daenerys has to make a tough decision.

Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: David Benioff
Stars: Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington

Review by Mary Cox

As predicted, Jon Snow’s northbound traipse has ended in absolute disaster. Not only is Daenerys down a dragon, but now, the Night King has added Viserion to the ranks of the White Walkers. Killing the Undead is hard enough as it is! Real talk: why did Dany take all three dragons up North in the first place? When her Dothraki Horde went up against the Lannister Army, she only brought along Drogon.

The only clear explanation is that Dany’s got a crush on a certain boring brooding bastard. Daenerys’ conversation with Tyrion regarding naming an heir for her kingdom is yet another sign that the plot of this season is clumsily stomping towards a hookup between Jon and Dany.

This was an episode that proves that nobody in this show ever learns anything. Sansa, who somehow can’t seem to remember how this situation ended up for her father, is sending Brienne of Tarth to her death by making her respond to a summons at King’s Landing. Sansa’s poor strategic and leadership skills are starting to get a little exhausting.

Once again: what the hell does Littlefinger want, other than to stir the pot? In past seasons, his motivations have been a little clearer, as it’s established that he carried a serious torch for the previous Lady of Winterfell, but ever since Catelyn’s downfall at the Red Wedding, Littlefinger has been slouching and scheming around the Seven Kingdoms with no Modus Operandi other than a vague
interest in boning Sansa.

Predictions for next week’s season finale: at least one of our important major characters is going to die.

Knowing how this series works, there’s no way all of these characters are going to live until next year’s premiere. My money is on Brienne when she goes to King’s Landing, or possibly Cersei at the hands of Jaime. The White Walkers, armed with their new dragon, are going to successfully attempt to storm the
Wall. Sansa is going to continue making irresponsible decisions, and Littlefinger is going to lurk menacingly around a corner.
 
beyond_the_wall_2.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 05

rickandmorty1Rick and Jerry go on an adventure.

Director: Juan Jose Meza-Leon (as Juan Meza-León)
Writers: Justin Roiland (created by), Dan Harmon (created by)
Stars: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer

Review by Mary Cox

“The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy”

As predicted, Beth is visibly struggling with both being single and single parenthood. Her morbid horse hoof statue is indicative that Beth is not thriving in her post-Jerry world. Much like Seinfeld’s Festivus holiday, this season’s seems to be centered around the notion of the Airing of Grievances. Rick finally
gets the chance to directly confront Jerry about “ruining” Beth’s shot at a good future by knocking her up in high school.

As much as I’m loving every episode being a (sometimes literal) therapy session for our characters, using a mid-battle heart-to-heart as the backbone of every episode is getting a little old.

Despite the episode being focused primarily on Jerry and Rick, the understated star of the episode was Morty. We learn that Morty is the mastermind behind the whole premise of the Rick and Jerry episode just because Morty wanted Rick to get off his back for a minute. Morty’s confrontation of Ethan was downright sinister. We’ve seen Morty transform this season from an unwilling and helpless sidekick to a powerful protagonist.

The real question is: what is Morty going to do in future episodes with his newfound power and prowess?

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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