Crap Comic Book Villains #1 – Death-Throws

Comic books have the potential to be masterful story telling devices, able to uniquely marry up powerful words with deep imagery. On the other hand they can also weave ridiculous, over the top plots with poor drawings which makes you question how a human being could come up with such a thing.

The same can be said for comic book villains. Each one capable of being a pop culture icon for the ages or being entirely forgettable. The role of a villain is a difficult balance to get right for comic book writers as they have to be threatening but also defeat-able. Get it right and the villain can sharpen the hero of the story, taking them on a journey and pushing them to the limit. Get it wrong and they are doomed to ridicule and being lost in the ether of time.

In this first part of a, hopefully, ongoing series I will be looking at villains who fit into the latter category. This time we will be looking at the jugging themed villain group Death-Throws.

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First appearing as villains for Captain America in May 1986 Death-Throws were a group of villains who committed crime by using their juggling skills. Yes, that’s right, the main thing they had going for them was they could juggle pretty good. They didn’t have super strength or could make themselves invisible or bend reality to their will, nope they could just throw multiple things in the air at the same time. The team consisted of five members named Bombshell, Knickknack, Oddball, Ringleader and Tenpin. Over time they have also battled Hawkeye, Mockingbird, Union Jack and Sabra. Despite their obvious limitations as a team they did try and pull off some quite high levels crimes such as attacking civilians on Tower Bridge and arranging a jail break. However they have failed to make a lasting impact on the Marvel universe.

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Members

Bombshell
Bombshell was a female juggler who used anti-personnel weapons like bombs and grenades. Bombshell looks exactly as you expect from her name, an attractive blonde. She doesn’t seem to have fully embraced the evil lifestyle as she has been shown on several occasions to be quick to surrender or simple run away when a fight isn’t going her way.

Knickknack
Knickknack’s specialism on the juggling front was bladed weapons such as knives, cleavers and, most extravagantly of all, chainsaws. Quite why the name Knickknack was chosen for this character remains unclear as it doesn’t relate to his ‘ability’, a better name would have been Juggly McKnifeface.

Oddball
Now this name makes much more sense as Oddball’s specialism was in various kinds of dangerous balls which he would juggles. Things like acid balls, smoke balls and the like. This character has probably the most expansive back story and the persona has been used by two different people. Surprisingly two different people decided it was a good idea to juggle balls in the air to commit crime. The first Oddball, Elton Healey, is unfortunately no longer with us as he was killed in a blood sport tournament. Who would have thought such skills wouldn’t be useful in a ‘battle to the death’ environment. Orville Block was the next to take up the mantle of Oddball but has only seen a couple of comic book appearances.

Tenpin
Of all of the Death-Throws Tenpin has the most ridiculous specialism of all. He uses flaming, specially weighted bowling pins which he also uses as projectiles. It’s almost as if he came up with a cool super-villain name and then worked backwards from there. It raised so many questions mainly who produces these pins in the first place and surely these would be just as dangerous to Tenpin as anyone else. Tenpin is the brother of Oddball and if his inclusion in the Death-Throws isn’t a prime example of nepotism then I really don’t know what is.

Ringleader
Ringleader is a solid name for this villain because he’s the leader of the Death-Throws, the circus connection to juggling and also that he uses razor sharp rings to create havoc. Of all of them this is the best name on a thematic level. I don’t know exactly what being the leader of such a group would entail but there must be some kind of paperwork to administer and possibly sort out HR and personal issues between the members.

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How would they be in a Netflix/Christopher Nolan style gritty, real world setting?
The juggling aspect by itself isn’t entirely threatening but it would be easier to imagine a down on their luck circus trope turning to crime to make ends meet. If you could incorporate other circus elements like gymnasts, high wire acts, contortionists and freaky clowns it would be a work-able story in a more grounded movie/series. Hard to see such a group being the headliner in that situation but could be used for background world building reasons. Interestingly a character called John Healy has already appeared in the Netflix series Daredevil, who was portrayed as a bog standard assassin but in a key scene using a bowling ball to kill someone. This seems more of a reference to Oddball rather than a direct analog for the character.

Could they actually be a threat?
It’s hard to see how a group that using juggling objects to commit violence would be any more dangerous than people with guns or knives, in fact it would be easier to argue it would be less threatening because of the ridiculousness of the act and how easy it would for Death-Throws to cause just as much damage to themselves as other people. In my opinion the better way of committing a crime using that skill set would be for half of the group to distract people with a display of their amazing talents while the other half rob a bank or steal a car or learn how to do more useful life skills that don’t involve juggling.

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And finally…
My favorite part of the back story Death-Throws is that at some point in time fellow low-level villains Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax asked to join the Death Throws. Their request was denied on the simple basis that they couldn’t juggle. When the Death-Throws don’t want you then it’s probably time to hang up the guitar and saxophone and consider what you have done with your life.

Rick and Morty – Season 3 Episode 1 – The Rickshank Rickdemption Review

Rick: Not so fast Morty, you heard your mom. We’ve got adventures to go on Morty just you and me, and sometimes your sister and sometimes your mom but never your dad. You wanta know why Morty? Because he crossed me.
Morty: Okay Rick take it easy that’s dark
Rick: Oh it gets darker Morty, welcome to darkest year of our adventures. First thing that’s different, no more dad Morty. He threatened to turn me into the government so I made him and the government go away.
Morty: Oh fuck
Rick: I’ve replaced them both as the de facto patriarch of your family and your universe. Your mom wouldn’t have accepted me if I came home without you and your sister so now you know the real reason I rescued you. I just took over the family Morty and if you tell your mom or sister I said any of this I’ll deny it and they’ll take my side because I’m a hero Morty and now you’ve got to do whatever I say Morty, forever! And I’ll go out and I’ll find some more of that Mulan Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce Morty, because that’s what this is all about Morty, that’s my one armed man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family Morty, that was fate, I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. I want that Mulan McNugget sauce Morty, that’s my series arch Morty even if it takes nine seasons. I want my McNugget dipping sauce, Szechuan sauce Morty. That’s going to take us all the way to end Morty, nine more seasons Morty. Nine more seasons until I get that dipping Szechuan sauce. 97 more years Morty. I want that McNugget sauce Morty.

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Rick and Morty finally returns after over a year away and in the most unexpected of fashions with just being unceremoniously dumped on the Adult Swim website on April Fools day. It’s a solid opener which does an effective job of resetting the universe and calling back to previous episodes but also retains the dark humour which have made Rick and Morty so good to watch.

A lot was made at the end of last season about how the show would handle getting Rick out of prison. Would it be an all action jail heist affair or a simple ‘I’m back bitches’? In typical style the show handles both approaches with a memory simulation cold opener which helps us to better understand why Rick is why he is, it would seem all of this was down to a McDonald’s dipping sauce. The simulation aspect of the episode is over pretty quickly and then the real work begins as Rick mounts an elaborate and bloody jail break/revenge plot.

The memory simulation part of the episodes carries the most emotional weight as it shows the chain of events which lead to Rick being who he is today. The ‘memory’ of Beth and Diane dying is clearly fake as Beth is alive in all versions of reality our Rick has existed in. However, and I’m probably missing something, I do wonder how much of the fake origin story is grounded in real events. There is only so much a guy can love McNugget Szechuan dipping sauce surely?

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As the episode progresses we see Rick breaking out of prison and attacking both the government and the Council of Ricks simultaneously. The episode really packs a lot of story and action into a scant 22 minutes and the whole thing seems to go on for longer that the run time. That is a definitely a positive in this case as never at any point  does the episode drag or out stay its welcome. It’s difficult to adequately pull off a season opener which mainly has the mission of resetting everything back to the way it was but it’s handled very well here.

Despite the episode being very action heavy the jokes were still in there and landed very well. Any scene involving Morty and Summer was great, I enjoyed the whole lawyer Morty bit, and a great turn by Nathan Fillion as the alien mind agent really fleshed out that character. As usual dark humour was abound, and it certainly trumps most of the comedy on TV right now, but it doesn’t have high jokes per minute rate.

While the episode mainly concentrated on resolving and resetting it also looked back as well. A fair chunk of the episode was Morty showing Summer the darker side of his adventures with Rick and the disasters he leaves in his wake. A quick portal jump to the Cronenberg world from Rick Potion #9 is not only a nice little wink at the fans but also helps us to understand Morty’s stance when it comes to Rick. As mentioned above there is also action involving the council of Ricks from Close Rick-counters Of The Rick Kind and the closing speech was vaguely similar to the ‘100 years’ one from the pilot. All of these call backs serve to move the episode forward, or re-enforce the storytelling, rather than just being mere fan service.

The closing exchange between Morty and Rick was probably the most ponder some moment of the whole episode for me. We have seen angry Rick on many occasions but he’s always been able to pull himself from the edge down to the love he clearly feels for his family. The betrayal committed by Jerry, from Rick’s point of view, was a heinous act and he undertook a huge mission to exact revenge on him and the government which he despises. Rick and Morty have often had a strained relationship and it’s difficult to watch Rick go at Morty with both barrels. It’s an interesting change, not one that sits right with me 100%, for the character to be filled with vengeance to this point we saw at the end of the episode and I wonder how this anger will manifest itself in future episodes.

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One thing I wasn’t overly keen on was the way the episode removed the issue of having the intergalactic government as part of Earth. Decreasing the value of the currency down to zero was a stroke of genius and such a Rick thing to do but I’m a little bit saddened we won’t get to see more of how Earth fared with an alien government in charge. I can only hope the ramifications of the sudden alien retreat from Earth will be mentioned down the line.

Overall a very good episode which found the time for the comedy in what was an action packed 22 minutes. It resolved the majority of the hanging threads from last season with a great deal of skill and polish but also set things up nicely for the upcoming episodes. How much the season arch will hinge on the ‘darkest adventures’ remains to be seen but I’m very excited about where the show can go from here.

Grade: B+

Random Musings

Lots of great back and forth this week with the Mexican stand off between Morty, Rick and Riq IV being a particular highlight. In an episode so charged with kinetic action energy it was good it also took the time to have these little exchanges flavoured throughout.

I genuinely don’t feel this show gets the credit it deserves for it’s visuals and animation style. The whole battle sequence in the prison between the council of Ricks and the galactic government is full of visceral joy.

On that same point the memory sequences were visually fantastic with elements of the memory dissolving from view and the sky having the style of neurons firing in the brain.

Of course Goldenfold was part of an actual underground anti alien resistance, of course

“We can put that back and pretend we never saw it, like dad’s mannequin leg” Ah as a Harmontown listener I really enjoyed that one.

Seriously just when you thought Tammy couldn’t get any worse she goes and does that. Fuck you Tammy fuck you.

<- Season 2 Episode 10 ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ Review

Betrayal At House On The Hill – A Board Game Review

The creak of footsteps on the stairs, the smell of something foul and dead, the feel of something crawling down your back. This and more can be found in this award-winning and highly acclaimed game of strategy and horror. Will you and your friends survive a Betrayal At House On The Hill?

The Basics
Betrayal At House On The Hill, or just Betrayal from here on out, is a 2004 exploration/traitor game published by Avalon Hill. Three to six players all enter a haunted house filled with spooky events, cursed items and creepy happenings. Each game starts with all of the players working together to explore the house room by room. Rather than a traditional fixed board Betrayal has tiles which represent rooms in the house, as players move around they uncover new tiles and start to build up a floor plan of the house that way. At some point during the game the ‘haunt’ kicks in, at which point one player turns on the others and will attempt to kill them, usually with supernatural assistance.

Gameplay
Betrayal has two very different stages to its gameplay, the exploration phase and the haunt phase:

Exploration Phase
The first step in the exploration phase is for each player to select a character they will be playing as during the game. The haunted house ascetic starts coming into play immediately as each of the characters is a horror movie trope, we have a high school jock, crazy scientist and creepy children among other. While all the characters are slightly different no one feels more powerful than the other so it avoids anyone being disappointed, my group tends to just go for whatever character feels right for them rather than checking the stats. Each of the characters have numbered attributes for speed, sanity, might and knowledge but speed is the most important skill in this stage of the game as it dictates how many rooms the plater can move through. All of the stats can go up or down during the game as supernatural events in the house can make the player better or worse over time. The bulk of the exploration phase is players moving through the house, the house is discovered by placing tiles from a central pile onto the relevant floor the player is on. The house has three floors and players are free to explore all three floors but only have access to the ground floor to start with. If a player uncovers a tile with one of three special symbols on then that players turn ends and they have to draw a card which matches that symbol. The games has three kinds of cards Event, Omen and Item. Event cards are something happening to the player in question and, dependant on the roll a dice, will often either increase or decrease certain stats. Item cards are objects that really only come into play during the haunt phrase but Omen cards are by the far the most interesting. Omen cards are similar to Item cards, as often an omen is an item, but more importantly every time an Omen card is drawn then there is a chance the haunt can activate. When an Omen card is drawn the player must roll six of Betrayal’s unusual dice (unlike standard dice the dice in Betrayal  only have zero, one or two pips). If the number rolled is less than the number of Omen cards the nothing happens (phew) but roll more then the haunt begins. This is wonderful mechanic as it adds tension to a the opening phases of the game which would be lacking otherwise, the haunt rolls start off almost as an afterthought but as time passes they more and more edgy. The number of cards keeps going up and there comes a point where the haunt must be on the next roll and that’s when this game really shines.

Haunt Phase
Once a player has triggered the haunt the players consult a table to decide who is the betrayer and what haunt will be played. This is a very well thought out process on the part of the game designers as it ensures the room tiles and items to be used in the haunt will be present. Most of the time the player who triggered the haunt is the betrayer but it can sometimes be more specific such as the most sane player. That person then becomes the betrayer who’s quest is often to kill the other players, who are then referred to as heroes. The game offer over 50 haunt scenarios for people to enjoy and they rely heavily on classic horror monsters and situations. Dracula, Frankenstein, zombies and witches are all covered here and the ability to take control of these monsters is definitely a lot of fun for the betrayer. The haunts also cover more general movie set ups like The Thing or Hollow Man so it’s a good mix of styles. It’s clear a lot of love has been put into getting all of the classics into the game and the implementation of how these monsters can compliment the gameplay is handled well. The betrayer and the heroes each have a separate rule book  which explains what each needs to do to win, how monsters work and other rule clarifications. These rule books are very similar but there is certain information the heroes know that the betrayer doesn’t and vice versa, there isn’t a great deal of strategy in Betrayal but what there is can be found here. Decided what to verbally declare around the table and how to best go about defeating the betrayer can be crucial in winning or losing this game. Having read the books the players all return to the table and exploration can continue but, more importantly, players and monsters can all attack each other and are competing to complete their win condition. Players will die if their stats drop below a certain level but the combat is simple enough to follow and are based on dice rolls only for the most part.

Overall the gameplay in Betrayal is very solid but the exploration phase can drag somewhat in the final few rounds especially if haunt rolls continue to be under the Omen card number for too long. However exploring the house in general is great fun and the cards are always well written and play into the haunted house theme. The game really comes into its own during the haunt, as the heroes bravely try and defeat the darkness a real sense of over the top drama starts to happen. All the haunts I have come across have been fairly balanced but the floor layout can give either side an advantage but with 50 haunts in the book then there is plenty of replay value.

Board & Components
Betrayal is currently just over £30 on Amazon right now which is probably the mid range of board game pricing these days but you do get a hell (see what I did there) of a lot of components for your money. For starters the game comes with 44 room tiles for the house which are made of decent quality cardboard and are quite detailed, the six character cards are of equal quality and are all doubled sided. On top of this nearly 150 small (about the size of a 5p) tokens are provided which represent monsters, wall switches, item piles and all manner of stuff. Throw into that dice, character figures, plastic tabs, Omen cards, Event card, Item cards, three rule books and a damage track as well and you can see the value for money. Clearly some sacrifices had to be made to keep costs down and this does mean the painting on the character figures isn’t the best. They are serviceable certainly but not outstanding, so much so  that I ended up having mine repainted. Despite this complaint the overall quality of the components is good, although they are more functional for the most part, but most care has been spent on the room tiles which are the most important element.

Theme
The theme is definitely the best thing about Betrayal, while the gameplay is solid and the components are decent, its the theme is what really sets this game apart from similar ones. The designers know what kind of game they were aiming for and filled it with B horror movie clichés. Almost everything on the cards is a double entendre; a spear pulses with power and the walls feel warm and moist. This adds a great deal of comedy to a game which is clearly a pastiche to those kind of movies, anyone with an interest in horror movies or creepiness in general is going to get real kick out of reading the content on the cards out loud (which is a big part of the game) in their best Vincent Price voice. The haunts are also in keeping with theme offering a small opening and ending statements to be read at various stages and the majority of the scenarios are more played for laughs rather than shocks. The game is a real delight to play through from start to finish and never gets too serious despite the subject matter. It’s a game which really embraces the ridiculous and I love it so much for that.

Final Thoughts
I really like Betrayal, as a fan of B horror movies the theme was always going to appeal to me and my gaming group. While the theme is pulled off really well the actual game is also a lot of fun to play, the ever changing nature of the ‘board’ means things will always be different every time and the sheer amount of haunts means it will take a long time before  you see the same haunt twice. However it won’t suit everyone the lack of real strategy will annoy some and those wanting a serious tactical approach will find little of that in Betrayal. Like the movies it lovingly mirrors blind luck has just as much to play as well laid out plans. The randomness of the board layout and the timing the haunt happens can improve the chances of the betrayer or the heroes winning the day, I can see how this would also upset certain people. Prime example of this is in one of our recent games we had to light candles to perform an exorcism, the candles could only be lit in certain rooms which contained fire. By sheer luck two of such rooms were right next to each other so it was a simple job to light these candles and move them around. The heroes comfortably won the day but if those rooms had been at different ends of the board it would have been a massive struggle. The 50 scenarios the game has will no doubt differ in quality and an average game group will never get close to seeing all  of them. Of the 5 scenarios I’ve personally played (Frankenstein’s Legacy, Hellbeasts, Invisible Traitor, The Star Sickness and Poltergeist for those who care) only one of them has felt like a bit of dud and that was The Star Sickness which has a hidden traitor mechanic. The game doesn’t handle this hidden traitor gameplay well and while having a tiny board game version of The Thing sounds cool it just doesn’t work very well in practice. All of these are tiny complains about a game which knows exactly what kind of game it wants to be and revels in it over the top horror theme. Get this with the right group of people, who want to have a bit of fun rather than pound each other into submission, then you’ll struggle to find a game which offers more enjoyment or content for your buck than Betrayal At House On The Hill.

Rating:

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4 out of 5 Gravedigger’s biscuits

Love – Season 1 Episode 1 – It Begins Review

Mickey: Hi, guys. Sorry, I’m on Ambien, so it’s, um, you said earlier that if you ask for love, the world will send you love back. But I’ve been asking and asking, and I haven’t gotten fucking anything. Hoping and waiting and wishing and wanting love, hoping for love has fucking ruined my life. And you’re right, Eric I am a fuck-up. I’m really sorry. But I refuse to believe that all those dipshits I went to high school with, who are married now and putting pictures on Facebook every day of their kids in little headbands have it all figured out, right? That’s gotta be bullshit. That can’t be the deal, that can’t be it. I know it’s, like, not appropriate to be standing up here in a bathing suit but I took an Ambien tonight. I was supposed to go to sleep, but then he called me to come here. I’m really sorry.

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I’m not very familiar with Judd Apatow’s work, Knocked Up is the only movie of his I have seen and even then my dislike of Katherine Heigl did tarnish it somewhat, but he does appear to be a man who understands romantic comedies but also aims to put a unique spin on them. With Netflix money and more time to invest in character development will Love be a success? Based on the first episode the answer is yes, probably.

As the title implies the show is set up to be about love specially between Gus, played by Paul Rust and Mickey, played by Gillian Jacob (of Community fame). Two people who are in strange but similar places when we meet them. There is a sadness to each of their existences that makes them relatable, both very alone and at such a low point that surely means we can only see them grow from here.

While the two characters are suffering with similar problems they have had very different paths to get to that point. Gus seems to have a fairly stable life with a decent job and a space he can call his own but he is an awkward person. Everything he tries to do is very stiff and artificial. The point is really hammered home when Natalie, Gus’ girlfriend who is quickly gone within the first 15 minutes but is played to great effect by  Milana Vayntrub, accuses him of being ‘fake nice’. It’s a hurtful label but certainly one that can be argued for the character. Seemingly unable to connect with people in a meaningful way all his interactions with others seem to revolve around himself. When given the opportunity to open up at a pool party he laments his lack of having fun in his late teens/early twenties and feels he has played things too safe.

It’s interesting then that when given the chance of a lifetime, to have a threesome with two very attractive college girls, he ruins it with his own insecurities. Gus is a person who wants to live but seems incapable  of doing so. The failed threesome is when we see Gus unable to sleep and questioning everything about himself. The quiet reflection is played well by Rust who doesn’t shout or scream about his lot in life but the hurt is clear on his face.

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Mickey, on the other hand, is more understated as a character but perfectly capable of being just as awkward as Gus. Clearly a party girl who spent most of her life at other people’s homes doing drugs and drinking until she can’t stand, Mickey is also unsure of where her life is headed. We see her in the opening half of the episode with her on again off again boyfriend which is a relationship which isn’t working for her, it also leads to some of the most unromantic sex you will see outside of Pornhub. Mickey is keen to find love and her speech at the slightly strange Bliss House is heart felt and real for her, she sees others achieving those life goals we all have and just wants that for herself. What is stopping her from achieving this is herself, Mickey’s reliance on narcotics makes her life hectic and hard to manage. A huge amount of credit should got to Gillian Jacobs of playing the character on that line between loveable fuck up and terrible person.

Out of the two Mickey will probably be a more interesting character as her personality isn’t as transparent as Gus and Jacobs is more than capable of playing souls with a tortured past. I am excited to see Mickey’s story unravel over the next few episodes.

In a bold move Gus and Mickey are kept apart for the vast percentage of the episode, only meeting at a convenience store for the last five minutes. Separating the characters for a large chunk of the opening episode is a bold move to make but it makes sense given the context. Rather than concentrating on a pre-existing relationship, and the the challenges that creates, this series will explore new people and how they discover each other. The convenience store shows both of them at their lowest, after Gus’ aborted threeway and Mickey’s Ambien induced introspection at Bliss, both are broken people and it will be interesting to see how the show develops. It gives us a solid grounding as to who these people were before they got together which will help us to understand why they act they way they do when they are together.

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The main concerning thing about the opener is how ‘Hollywood’ the Love world is. Both Mickey and Gus work in entertainment related jobs and I do worry if this aspect of the show becomes to thick for a general audience to get into. At present the jobs seem to exist purely to create awkward comedy  but I hope the show doesn’t fall down by becoming to reliant on L.A. based humour.

It’s a promising and bold opener for a series which will ultimately be judged on how Gus and Mickey interact as a couple and how believable the relationship is. It wasn’t a laugh riot with most of the comedy coming from the awkwardness of the situations around the main character but it had enough to keep things ticking along. Rust and Jacobs seem to have settled into their roles very quickly and it will be fascinating to see how these very different people evolve and learn to be together. Whether it’s Los Angeles bubble will be too hard to penetrate remains to be seen but so far I’m on board for the tunnel of love.

Grade: B

Random Observations

It’s great to see Kerri Kenney-Silver in something mainstream again and she plays the, admittedly small, role of Mickey’s slightly spaced neighbour very well. I would like to see more of the character as I have always enjoyed Kenney-Silver’s work.

In fact the supporting cast in this have been very impressive with the small roles they had in the opener. From Mickey’s Australian room-mate to Gus’ friends each of them do feel like they have more of a story to tell and I hope this comes up during the series.

This is totally unrelated but Paul Rust has one very impressive nose, so much so that I have started to become somewhat distracted by it. In Watchmen Dr. Malcolm Long describes Rorschach as being ‘fascinatingly ugly’ and I now understand what he means. It’s not Paul Rust is ugly at all it’s just I can’t keep my eyes off his nose.

I adored the line about the women lying in her bathtub, dead, for over a week and the slow running water turning her into mush. It brought up all kinds of wonderfully horrid mental images.

The direction in this episode is solid without being breathtaking. One thing to note is how grounded the action is, despite all the incest adjacent threeways and hippy dippy churches the locations and characters feel very real and if this continues it will massively help the immersion in the series.

Family Day at Collectorabilia Leeds

Earlier on in December me and my small family were invited to pop down to a vintage toy fair at the Leeds Marriott Hotel called Collectorabilia, organised by Retro Events Ltd. We all had a fantastic day and it was great to reminisce about the good old days when toys were a little bit rubbish but had a great amount of imagination value. Plus we bought some Lego but more on that later.

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As a only child toys were a huge part of my childhood, with no brothers or sisters around to play those classic games of hide and seek or eye spy I was pretty much left to make my own entertainment. Toys were always something I adored far more than colouring books or art sets and provided me with hours of fun.

Over the years I amassed a fair amount of moulded plastic and had a ball with all of them. My tastes were fluid and changed pretty frequently based on what was popular at the time; Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Batman, Transformers, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Manta Force all passed through my snot covered hands. So when the chance came at attending a fair which would be full of such relics of my past I jumped at the chance.

The event was held at the Marriott Hotel in Leeds City Centre which is handy to get to from the train station. I previously attended a retro videogame fair here in October and once again the staff were extremely friendly and the venue immaculate. There was a large number of tables in the venue offering all sorts of varied toys. All tastes were catered for here and the choices on offer were numerous. Most stalls would offer a particular niche,  one table was covered in POP! figures for examples, but the sheer number of stalls meant you could find what you were looking for.

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Once again the team at Retro Events pulled off a very well organised and well stocked event. The atmosphere was very warm and bubbly with everyone on the stalls being approachable and knowledgeable. Joshua, my little boy, wandered around just say ‘Wow’ over and over again.

As I noticed with the retro videogame fair the price of most items were affordable for the most part. Of course you had your original boxed items which were quite expensive (£45 for a boxed Action Fleet Imperial Shuttle for example, the annoying thing is I actually owned that. Past Mark didn’t have financial savvy to keep it in the box!) but most things were very reasonable. Joshua managed to get a 6 inch C3PO, Batman and Green Goblin for 50p each which was a bargain.

Lego was quite a large part of the fair with a fair few sellers Lego minifigures. Joshua loves him some Lego so he was naturally drawn to these stalls. Having had a good look round we decided to buy him some Lego figures and he chose Batman, Robin, Black Widow (Yay for diversity), Venom, Spiderman and Thor to take home. These figures were three for £5 which was a good deal considering the price of Lego in general.

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Whilst classic toys were very much the order of the day it was also nice to see creative people doing something a little different in amongst the tables laden with Kenner Star Wars figures and Thundercats swords. Some of the Lego stalls were offering custom made minifgures which shows a great deal of skill and a stall selling hand made key chains which were very cool. It’s great that people with  a passion can make it work as a business and these fairs offer the general public a chance to appreciate the craft.

We all had a lovely day at the fair and Joshua is over the moon with his little Lego figures. I wasn’t able to pick anything up alas (everything I wanted was outside my price range which is kind of the story of my life) but it was fun to wander round and remember all the stuff I used to own as a kid.

Anyone who has a passing interest in toys of yesteryear (either for fun or as an investment) should pop down to the next event. There is enough stuff here to keep anyone interested and small children can pick up a bargain with their pocket money if they aren’t bothered about boxes and such. I would recommend anyone check this out for a light hearted and fun event.

N.B. Whilst the entry price to the event was covered by Retro Events Ltd and the travelling costs, item purchases and other sundry costs were covered fully by myself.

Jessica Jones – Season 1 Episode 1 – AKA Ladies Night Review

Luke Cage: So what else ya got, Sherlock?
Jessica Jones: All right. A drunk spills on your shirt, pukes on your shoe, and you roll with it. But break or scratch something? He’s toast. I’ve never seen a dive bar this clean. Because you care about it, more than anything. Maybe anyone. There’s history here, memories. Something personal, but private. So no photos or memorabilia. But you also like women. Temporarily, at least. And they like you.
Luke Cage: See, now that sounded like flirting to me.
Jessica Jones: Again, I don’t flirt. I just say what I want.
Luke Cage: And what do you want?

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I would class myself as a comic book fan and can identify most Marvel/DC characters by sight but I have to admit I know very little about Jessica Jones so am watching this show with no previous knowledge. However it is pleasing to see Marvel is trying to bring it’s less well known characters to a mainstream audience and I have high hopes for Jessica Jones based on the first episode.

What has always been most interesting to me about the superhero genre is how being super would affect the person who is super. The movie output of Marvel over recent years hasn’t really touched upon this with all of their heroes being brave, strong, heroic and fighting for the greater good. Occasional glimpses of the mental effects of these actions have been on display but mostly these movies have been very black and white with their portrayal. The tone of Jessica Jones really sets it apart from it’s big screen brothers.

Jessica does have super powers, from the initial episode we learn she has super strength and can leap tall buildings, but she isn’t a super hero. Rather than use her powers to save the earth she instead makes a poor living as a private detective. Rather than wear a fancy costume she slogs about in jeans and a leather jacket. This not only helps the show be very different from what we have seen before but also grounds the show in the real world.

Why a person would be given the gift of superpowers and then not really use them isn’t a question which has been addressed by mainstream comic to film/TV adaptations but it’s a fascinating one to explore. It does appear Jessica Jones will be looking closely at this question by making Jessica a broken human being.

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Jessica (played by the fantastic Krysten Ritter) is clearly suffering from trauma in her past and it appears on the surface that this trauma was caused by the villain of the piece Kilgrave (played by David Tennant). Kilgrave has the ability to force people to do his bidding using mental abilities. It’s a terrifying power for a person to have and it’s difficult to see how it could be used for good in any circumstances.  The episode makes clear that Jessica and Kilgrave have a history and the emotional abuse she suffered at Kilgrave’s hand is the reason she acts the way she does.

It’s very dark territory for any kind of TV show to approach, let alone one that is a linked to a company which is seen as family friendly, but this darkness is balanced out with humour. Jessica has a no nonsense attitude and this personality trait allows Ritter to deliver quite scathing lines with comedic verve. This show is never going to be a laugh a minute romp but these moments of light relief do help to break things up.

Jessica is smart, strong and powerful but also world weary and troubled. That’s a very difficult character to portray on screen; make her too negative and you risk alienating the audience, make her too soft and she won’t be seen as the strong lead she needs to be. It’s therefore to the credit of Krysten Ritter that she plays the character pitch perfectly, all her interactions with the other characters seem genuine and despite her hard outer shell it is clear she has had a difficult past. This makes the character accessible but also intriguing and I am genuinely excited to learn more about her back story.

One of the best parts of the episode was Jessica’s interactions with bar owner Luke Cage. Now Luke Cage is a character I am familiar with, mostly down to his association with Spiderman, so its good to see him on screen for the first time. Jessica does seem to have a strange relationship with Luke and the opening screens on her spying on him via a fire escape seem to suggest he is an old flame. As the episode develops we learn this isn’t the case but this just raises further questions about what Jessica’s interest in him is. Is it purely sexual or is it because she is aware that he is also ‘special’? If so how could she possibly know that? These are questions which will no doubt be answered over time.

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The conversation with Luke at the bar is dripped with sexual context and it’s not surprising that the two end up in bed together. Whilst it isn’t shocking based on the dialogue it certainly is shocking to see a Marvel product have such obvious sex scenes, so much thrusting. These scenes are tastefully done but also an interesting look at the two characters. Luke is keen to protect Jessica but she knows she can handle it. As she turns over onto her stomach anal sex is implied. Jessica wants Luke to know she can handle whatever he can throw at her and anal sex is, in her mind, the best way to show that strength at that moment in time. Rather than being played for titillation this scene is showed to develop the characters and gives us clues about how their relationship may change.

Sex does seem to be an important part of the Jessica Jones universe and for the most part this episode implies sexual abuse by Kilgrave not only towards Jessica but also towards Hope. The position Hope was left in on the bed has a large amount of BDSM (Google it for the more sheltered amongst us) overtones which can’t be ignored. The full extent of Kilgrave’s mental torture of Jessica hasn’t been fully explained but it must have been something pretty severe to affect her the way that is has.

The ending is probably the most heart breaking piece of TV I have seen this year. The main bulk of the episode is Jessica being hired by the parents of Hope Shlottman to track down their missing daughter, turns out Kilgrave was behind with whole thing of course. Jessica manages to track down Hope and reunites her with parents. It’s a beacon of light in a dark world but things quickly take a turn for the worse in the closing minutes. It’s an incredibly sad event to end on but it was needed to give Jessica a reason to carry on fighting. She knows how terrible Kilgrave can be and feels she is the only one equipped to deal with the threat.

A fantastic opening episode which really sets the tone for the show and introduces all the characters in a real and meaningful way. Jessica is brilliantly portrayed by Ritter and I have no doubts this will be a break out hit for her as an actress. She is supported by a strong cast and overall the episode is paced very well. The writing is top notch with all the line feeling organic despite the slightly strange circumstances. It sets up events and leaves enough mystery behind to make me want to watch more.

Rating: A-

Random Musings

I will be taking a slightly different approach to these reviews as I did with Rick & Morty and will be posted them as I watch each episode. This could end up with a couple of reviews being posted on the same day. Who knows what is going to happen!

It’s great to see Carrie-Anne Moss in something mainstream once again. I must confess the last time I remember seeing her in anything was the Matrix Revolutions. It’s fantastic to see the script embracing her homosexuality without making a big song and dance about it, I hope the whole extramarital affair angle  doesn’t just become a storyline for the sake of it but we will see. I hope Jessica Jones continues to explore these themes of sex as the series develops.

Special mention should go to the young actress playing Hope, Erin Moriarty, who played the character with just the right amount of naivety to make her seem fleshed out. The maniacal facial expressions as she acts out Kilgrave’s final demands are hauntingly disturbing.

One of the only things I have slightly disappointed in was the character of Trish Walker who wasn’t really given enough screen time to really add anything to the story. It’s good that Jessica will have a safe female to interact with and I can only assume Trish’s role in Jessica’s life will get more fleshed out in later episodes.

The scenes of Jessica doing her ‘day job’ were wonderfully executed as well and I loved the little side adventure with her serving the subpoena on the over the top dick

What did we all think to Ladies Night? Comments are always appreciated

My Day At The Leeds Retro Games Fair

Very recently I was invited to attend a retro video game fair which was put on by Retro Events Ltd. I had a fantastic day all round and was amazed by the number of people who are still massively passionate about consoles and games which haven’t been produced in over 20 years.

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The fair was held at the Marriott Hotel in Leeds city centre. This is truly an excellent venue for the event and was very easy to find (it’s only a five minute walk from the train station and there is a huge sign for it on a main road). The staff at the Marriott were all extremely friendly, polite and made me feel very relaxed from the outset. Having made a tiny enquiry at the main desk I was shown the way to where the fair was being held.

The venue was quite large and plenty big enough to accommodate the sellers tables and the people attending the event. It was well laid out and clearly a lot of thought had gone into making sure everything was organised properly. There was about 52 tables selling all kinds of retro videogame consoles, games and other assorted merchandise.  The sheer scale of the items on offer was mindblowing there was more recent offerings, things like PS1 and PS2 games but also much older faire.

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It was the classic Sega v Nintendo era which was most well represented with a large range of Megadrive, SNES, Gamegear, Gameboy, Gamecube and Saturn games up for purchase. All of these were very reasonably priced and what surprised me most is that the vast majority of games could be picked up for less than a fiver each. In my head I have always assumed retro gaming would be an expensive hobby but this would not appear to be the case at all. Of course some of the rarer items were quite expensive but in most cases everything was quite cheap.

I saw an eclectic mix of consoles as well some of which I had never even thought about since childhood. Whilst standard consoles were well represented, both boxed and not, there was also a quite high number of customized consoles which looked amazingly cool. I immediately fell in love with the custom arcade cabinets which I saw from Paul’s Custom Cabinets, these are truly elegant and beautiful looking desktop arcade cabinets. Whilst they are stunning and I want to own all of them there were a little bit expensive for me at the moment

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The fair also accommodated those with a preference for the early 80’s with much more old school consoles like the ZX Spectrum on display. Games that ran on cassette tapes are a little bit before my time but it was great to see them along side there more well know international brothers.

What amazed me most about the day was the unbridled joy on people’s faces as they finally managed to find that copy of ‘World of Illusion’ on the Megadrive. All the people I saw and spoke to where very knowledgeable on the subject of retro games and were very warm and friendly. The atmosphere in the venue was one of happiness and appreciation for a hobby we all love. I didn’t buy anything at the fair as all of my older consoles have long since left me but I am now seriously tempted to buy a old console once again!

Videogaming has always been a passion of mine since first getting a Nintendo Gameboy and it’s a hobby which has continued to this day. I have always been keen to get the latest console as quickly as possible but attending the fair has lit a nostalgic fire in me which has left me hankering for those Megadrive games.

I had a wonderful day at the fair and loved looking at everything and reminiscing about days gone by. The amount of stuff available to buy was huge and I could have spent all day going through every box, shelf and table looking for specific items. Everyone at the fair was genuinely lovely and I wouldn’t hesitate in suggesting anyone with any kind of interest in videogaming check out the fair next time it rolls around.

N.B. In the interest of fairnesss I must confirm the entry to the event were provided for free by Retro Events Ltd but all of the travel, food and other sundry expenses were covered by myself

Rick and Morty – Season 2 Episode 10 – The Wedding Squanchers Review

Rick: “Hi everybody I’m Rick. You know when I first met Bird Person he was…listen I’m not the nicest guy in the universe because I’m the smartest, and being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets. Now I haven’t been exactly subtle about how little I trust marriage, I couldn’t make it work and I could turn a black hole into a sun so at a certain point you got to ask yourself what are the odds this is legit? Not just some big lie we’re telling ourselves because we’re afraid to die alone? Because, you know, that’s exactly how we all die, alone. But, but here’s the thing Bird Person is my best friend and if he loves Tammy well then I love Tammy too. To friendship, to love and to my greatest adventure yet; opening myself up to others.”

Rick & Morty Season 2

*IT’S THE SEASON FINALE SO BE WARNED SPOILERS BE AHEAD*

The second season of Rick and Morty comes to an excellent conclusion with an episode offering both brilliantly observed comedy and emotional depth. The episode opens with Rick and the family being invited to the wedding of Bird Person and Tammy, Rick is reluctant to attend the ceremony but is forced to when Jerry gets himself into trouble. The wedding initially starts without any hitches but through a series of amazingly unpredictable events the Smith’s end up being stranded off world. Rick, feeling he has no other choice gives himself into the Galaxy Federation leaving the remaining Smith clan wondering what will happen next.

Straight off the bat let me say I loved this episode which not only works as a season finale but also an excellent 20-odd minutes of Rick and Morty. Whilst it is an excellent episode it isn’t an uplifting one, the season ends on a very sombre note and makes changes to the Rick and Morty world which will no doubt have serious repercussions for season three. Rick is invited to the wedding but has numerous issues with the concept of marriage. Rick’s own marriage didn’t work, although our lack of information on this makes his point of view difficult to understand fully, and feels that being joined in matrimony is selling out. Rick eventually comes around to the idea and receives good counsel from Morty in particular. This season has been hinting at trying to soften Rick as a person especially when it comes to his interaction with his family so his change of mind isn’t entirely out of character. It’s at this point in the episode where things takes an unexpected dark turn.

The universe building the show has done over the last couple of season made the twists all the more shocking. What started as a throw away gag in season one about a tightly wound alien getting it on with a slutty high school teenager (she loves that bukkake) turned into something far deeper as time went on. The relationship between Tammy and Bird Person is referred several times over the season and so it isn’t a surprise to anyone that things with them have progressed to marriage. There is a genuine warmth between Bird Person and Tammy which makes her betrayal even more of a punch to the stomach that it seems on the surface. Bird Person’s confusion about what has unfolded is genuine and his heartbreak is just as upsetting to watch as his actually heart being shot several times. Whilst this situation is bizarre the reactions of the characters come from a very real place and this is a huge credit to the voice actors and the writers to pull off such emotional depth in what is essentially a cartoon.

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The episode continues down a dark path with Rick sacrifices what he hold most dear; his freedom, to save his family. It’s another pretty shocking twist which I didn’t see coming. Marooned on a tiny planet Jerry pleads with his family to hand Rick into the authorities and continue with their normal lives, Rick’s face in overhearing this conversation is saddening to see as he realises it’s the only true way out of the situation for them. It doesn’t make his decision any easier to take however as even to the last second I was expecting some crazy Rick scheme to get him out of the pickle. This never happens and as the audience we are left with a cliffhanger.

The emotional development of the characters makes the episode great but the comedy is also well done here. An alien wedding was always going to be a good mine for humour and Rick and Morty embraces this to perfection. Various visual and written jokes land and the whole sequence of the Smiths trying to find a new planet is hilarious. It would have been easy for this episode to fixate on the serious and negligent the comedy but this one finds the balance just right. It’s not a wall to wall funny episode as it has a lot of darkness to cram in but as an episode it still works as a comedy.

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It’s a great episode and most certainly better than the ending to season one. It tells a tale effectively which delivers emotional punch but still finds the time for the lighter moments. It also bring with it major changes to the show and it will be great to see how season three turns out (in eighteen months time!). A fantastic closer which ends a great season.

Random Musings

“So take your attitude to the men’s section of Kmart coz you need to cut me some slack…s” Oh Jerry your lack of comedic nuisance knows no bounds.

I wonder what is so dangerous about a planet where everything is ‘on the cob’ but if Rick panics about it then it must be hella deadly. The fact it is never explained makes it even more funny.

The visual gag of Rick’s speech notes are fantastic and easily something that could have been missed first time around. Rick and Morty continues to be a show which only improves with multiple viewings.

I am fascinated to see how season three is going to pan out. Of course having Rick trapped in a prison is interesting but what is more intriguing is how Earth joining the Galactic Federation is going to affect the shows overall universe. Rick and Morty has always had a grounding being based in our normal world so this is massive gear change. We will see.

Dan Harmon is really nailing the season finales this year, with this and the exceptional Community closer Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television. Both were excellent offering comedy, brilliant narrative story telling and emotional weight.

<- Episode 9 ‘Look Who’s Purging Now’ Review

Rick and Morty – Season 2 Episode 9 – Look Who’s Purging Now Review

Rick: Hey, hey Morty there it is down there my ship. Looks to me like the… Morty?
Morty: Suck my cock. Eat this.
Rick: Oh boy you’re really urgh you’re really going for it over there huh. I urgh I think those people were just hiding.
Morty: I don’t give a shit.
Rick: Okay Morty now you’re just shooting corpses.
Morty: How do you like this?
Rick: Okay buddy, alright that’s good, good job. Time to go home.

Rick & Morty Season 2

In this weeks episode (the penultimate one, how time flies!) Rick and Morty discover an alien planet which once a year has a day where all crime is legal, they call it The Festival, and today happens to be Festival day. As one would expect Rick and Morty become stuck on the planet and comedic hell breaks loose.

If the premise of the episode seems familiar that’s because it’s essentially the set up to the 2013 film The Purge. It’s a challenge for the writer to, having established the plot, make this episode noteworthy without relying too heavily on tropes or clichés and for the most part Rick and Morty pulls this off. Rather than shying away from the comparisons to The Purge, Rick reveals in it and directly refers the move over the course of the episode. It’s a decent well for comedy and the referential nature of it does raise the odd smile.

Whilst the overall plot can be predicted well in advance, of course Rick and Morty will get stuck on the planet and have to escape, seeing it unfold is a pleasing experience. Rick is too smart to get caught in some kind of trick and having them both stuck due to engine failure or similar would be insulting to a Rick and Morty, which even the creators acknowledge are pretty switched on.  As with most episodes this season it’s Morty which creates the drama leaving Rick has to clean up, seeing a teenage girl in trouble Morty insists that Rick intervene to save her. Although it would appear Morty’s desire to help is more based on hormonal lust rather than morality, it still comes from a real place and is consistent with his character.

Morty’s moral objections to the situations that either Rick creates or finds himself in has been a very familiar theme this season. It was the backbone of most of the plot line including ‘The Ricks Must Be Crazy’ and ‘Mortynight Run’ to name but two and whilst these episodes have been very good the theme is starting to be tired. One criticism I have of this episode is this is becoming some what predictable and I am hoping next season we start to see more expansive storylines.

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Another small criticism is the sheer amount of gory violence on display this week. Now I adore over the top gory violence and in the right amounts it can be hilarious (see Dead Snow as an example) but Rick and Morty has pushed the violence so far this season that I have become desensitized to it. The violence in Rick and Morty always works best when it’s out of the blue, such as Uncle Steve being shot in the head, but it went overboard in this episode. I appreciate this is the joke but it didn’t have the effect I was hoping for. By the time Rick got to the rich snobs I had grown bored of the rampant killing.

What really works well in this pool of blood is Morty’s character development who seems to have been like a coiled spring since the opening couple of episodes. His character has always been the meek wallflower to Rick’s outgoing cool guy so it was wonderfully dark to see Morty go off the deep end and what a deep end it was. Having, some would say justifiably, killed the old lighthouse keeper Morty goes on full blown murderous rampage which results in him totally losing it. Having no control over his actions it’s eventually Rick who has to step in and save him from himself. It’s another example of Rick caring for Morty which has been a theme of the season overall. It was also pleasing to see Rick be a good mentor to Morty in ailing his fears about the murders by saying the chocolate bar was the cause. The episode is bleak and paints a picture that all of us are capable of terrible things if pushed too far but it also offers a small amount of light at the end.

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It’s a hard episode to review as I did enjoy it but I didn’t love it either. Another solid outing which offers a good concept, pop culture humour and a decent plot line. It’s pleasing to see just Rick and Morty having an adventure and the episode offered enough comedy for me but I left it feeling a little cold. Excluding the season opener this was probably the weakest episode for me.

Grade: C

Random Musings

Filing out the episode was a row between Summer and Jerry which linked, sort of, into the main plot. To call these section a B story would be giving it too much credit but it was a nicely written and played out bit. Jerry continues to be an complex character and his despair at never connecting with his loved ones always pays off.

One mystery remains how Morty’s crush was able to get the drop on Rick in the first place. By his own admission he could see what was going to go down so why wouldn’t he be more cautious?

Morty’s critique of the lighthouse keeper’s screenplay was pretty fair. The whole ‘three weeks earlier’ gimmick is cheap story telling and anyone using it deserves to be pushed down a flight of stairs.

Most of the end tags have worked really well this season and the ‘Taddy Mason’ one this week was one of the best. It really paid off based on the good work already done in the earlier part of the episode. Jerry desperately, and poorly, trying to turn off the TV was a highlight.

The alien cat lady Morty takes a fancy to is certainly cute, she had a whole farm girl next door feel going on, although I do worry that Morty’s adventures with Rick could have spoiled normal human women for him.

I liked how the alien society had quickly fallen back into its old ways even after the rich ruling class were overthrown. Just goes to show people don’t really change.

<- Episode 8 Interdimensional Cable 2 Review

Rick and Morty – Season 2 Episode 8 – Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate Review

Summer: Gross, does all interdimensional TV have to rely on juvenile violence?
Morty: Well Summer maybe people that create things aren’t concerned with your delicate sensibilities you know? Maybe the species that communicate with each other through a filter of your comfort are less evolved that the ones that just communicate? Maybe your problems are your own to deal with and maybe the public giving a shit about your feelings is a one way ticket to extinction.

Rick & Morty Season 2

In this week’s episode Jerry is taken to intergalactic hospital having accidentally becoming exposed to one of Rick’s alien discoveries. Jerry quickly recovers but is asked to give up his penis so this can be used as a heart for the finest diplomat in the galaxy, Shrimpy Pibbles. During this downtime Rick, Morty, Beth and Summer sit it out in the hospital waiting room watching some good, old interdimensional TV.

This episode naturally sits as a sequel to the wildly popular ‘Rixty Minutes’ which was part of season one and this makes it difficult to review fairly. Rixty Minutes is one of my favourite Rick and Morty episodes and is certainly the finest 20-odd minutes of comedy the show has done, expectation going into Interdimensional Cable 2 was high but it would be grossly unfair to allow those expectations to overshadow the episode as a whole.

As with Rixty Minutes Rick upgrades the hospital TV so it can accept channels from all realities. Each of these shows are actually improv’d bits from the series creator Justin Roilland. As you would expect from improv comedy certain elements work better than others; Man Vs Car, Personal Space Show and Eyeholes cereal stand out on first viewing. I was regularly laughing all the way through the episode and even the sections which I wasn’t overly keen on (I’m looking at you Improv Song Man) still had some merit to them. Roilland is a brilliant improviser and he really gets to flex his muscles. The comedy isn’t quite in the same league as Rixty Minutes, and I doubt the characters will have the lasting appeal of say Ants-In-My-Eyes Johnson, but it’s still a very good episode comedicially.

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As a counter point to the improv nonsense Jerry has a storyline which, whilst silly, does have some weight behind it. Jerry has a penis which is an exact match for the heart of a much loved alien diplomat and the doctors request that he ‘donate’ his penis. Despite his earlier assurances Jerry doesn’t want to lose his penis and, in typical Jerry style, tries to discredit Pibbles’ good name to get out of the surgery rather than admit his faults. Whilst this plot has its own comedy, Pibbles confusion about why humans loves their dicks so much is hilarious, it mainly serves to make a point.

The show often uses morality as a storytelling device and this episode does a good job of using a bizarre dilemma to illustrates a larger theme. Jerry tries to be a good person but ultimately fails to live by his convictions, he wants everyone to like him and only agrees to the penis removal to silence an overly aggressive alien arsehole. Having come through the other side of this ordeal Jerry realises that he can be comfortable with his lot in life and accept things the way they are.

This same contrast was used brilliantly in Rixty Minutes, Morty’s ‘nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die’ speech, with the improv comedy coming to an unnerving halt by real world truth. Admittedly Jerry’s discovery doesn’t quite have the same emotional punch of Morty’s but it still works in this context.

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This theme of acceptance has been prominent throughout the season. In previous episodes we have seen Morty accept that Summer is now part of his adventures with Rick, both Beth and Jerry have accepted their marriage isn’t perfect but they still love each other and even Rick has accepted this place in the family. Some of these acceptances will no doubt have a time limit of course. It’s good to see the show continue to explore arching themes even in an episode based on improvised dialogue.

A very good episode which never quite reached the genius of Rixty Minutes but it was never likely to. The absurdity of the improv’d script was nicely contrasted by a tight, well told story about Jerry’s desire to be loved. The comedy was high with several chunks of the episode working really well, I have a feeling this one will improve with multiple viewings. Sequels are difficult things to pull off but this works on its own merits.

Grade: A

Random Musings

An alien internet full of alien porn? I am curious about the content purely from a scientific point of view.

Over the top violence, which was always been something Rick and Morty excels at, was front and centre this week. This kind of comedy regularly gets laughs but I hope they don’t push that too far.

How Did She Get There? was one of the more mind warping shows. I wasn’t sure where the set up was going when Morty pointed out the character but the pay off was brilliant. The question of how she got there will haunt me for some time.

I really enjoyed the call backs to aliens referring to things as alien even though they would be native to them. The part about the alien towel floored me.

I always like a bit of meta humour and this episode had it in spades, from Rick’s opening monologue about sequels to Morty’s rant about creativity. It’s a hallmark of Dan Harmon’s work and I am pleased to see it continue.

<-Episode 7 – Big Trouble In Little Sanchez Review
Episode 9 – Look Who’s Purging Now Review ->