Star Trek Discovery – Season 1

I was not prepared for what Star Trek Discovery is. I’ve never been a big Star Trek person, but I heard a lot about this, so I jumped in and I’m very glad I did. Much of what was fun about this season was the surprises, so I don’t want to give many details away. In short, you follow Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, through her journey trying to navigate through Klingon war. The supporting crew members are fleshed out well and the writers did a great job of keeping me interested in the supporting cast. I particularly liked the dynamic between Burnham and Saru, who is a new alien species played by Doug Jones that has some very interesting characteristics that play well off her arrogance. He’s able to expose a lot of her flaws. The entire cast is great including Michelle Yeoh (I know her for Crouching Tiger) and Jason Isaacs, who again, really shine different lights on Burnham.

As you learn more about the ship and crew, you get to explore Sci-Fi tropes and subjects in a way that’s never been more interesting. Even the budget and special effects of each episode are just below movie quality. So much so, that I was ok that this is the show that Bryan Fuller left American Gods for. Even with all that good, the season suffers from being 3-4 episodes too long. I’m just speculating, but I’m guessing that CBS had everything to do with this decision, because the content creators made such a strong show for so many episodes, and then it just shifts gears and then sort of trips at the finish line. It doesn’t ruin the season, but kind of like this review, you’ll leave somewhat disappointed. My family and I binged the first 10 episodes in 3 days then slowly finished the rest over the following week. Our interest fell off a cliff and I felt the resolution for the season was rushed. I recommend it, but you have to watch it quick if you don’t want to actually pay CBS any money for their stupid app.

Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening for the Switch is everything a remake should be. It’s more or less the same game as the original GameBoy release (as far as I can remember), but better in every way. Since it was on GameBoy and hasn’t received the same re-release attention that other games like A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time have received, I haven’t played it in at least 20 years. My only complaint about the game is the price, but more about that in a moment. Nintendo applied the almost toy-like aesthetic to this game that makes it easily the cutest game I’ve ever played. They even added some new features too, like the fishing and dungeon building (Is the fishing new?) that I enjoyed. The gameplay and story are much sillier and more fun than any other Zelda game and the cameos of chain chomps, goombas, thwomps, piranha plants, and even Kirby add a lot of charm.

I really can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed playing this short and easy game. That’s the real kicker. $60 for a game I was able to get 100% completed in a week worth of moderate to light gaming time seems like too much. That being said, my 7-year-old has played through it twice, my 14-year-old has beat it and even my wife fell in love with and played through the whole campaign. When I look at it from that perspective, that $60 went a lot further than most of the video games I purchase. Is it fun and worth playing? Yes. It worth $60? Well, that’s up to you.

Mindhunter – Season 2

When I watched the first season of Mindhunter, it was with zero expectation or knowledge about what it was other than it had to do with serial killers. It took several episodes to hook me, too many honestly. Once it hit its stride, it became quite compelling. With the second season, we hit the ground running with it starting right where the last season left off. The dynamics between the main characters become more fleshed out and believable. Each of them has a unique and valuable point of view that showcases their individual intelligence and fallibility. I  related to all of them even when they take their turn to be assholes. Oddly enough, Tench was my favorite character this season. The supporting cast all does a great job, as well. I really want to see more of Barney, Greg, and Nance.

The real reason to watch is for the incredibly fascinating (I’ve no idea how accurate) portrayals of the serial killers. We meet some well-knowns like Manson and Son of Sam and lesser-knowns that have equally interesting scenes like the Candy Man’s accomplice. The second season spends a lot of time in Atlanta searching for the Atlanta Monster. This makes the second half of the season drag, but it gives us time to digest Tench’s personal life and boy does he have some shit to deal with. We’re still only teased with BTK and at the rate they’re going, at least one more season before that becomes the focus. If Mindhunter keeps doing what it doing though, I’ll be there.

The Boys – Season 1

I watched the boys and thought it was great. I’ve let it sit for a week to really gather my thoughts on it, and I just don’t have much negative to say. The acting, the writing, the casting, the quality of the special effects, were all great. My favorite part is the meta-commentary and awareness of hero worship in the movie industry. In this world, not only are all the super heroes real, they also star in their very own VCU (Vought Cinematic Universe). The people of The Boys universe are every bit as obsessed and tired of super hero franchises as we are (more so in Butcher’s case), but the heroes aren’t just actors. It was interesting and it is kind of a sick burn on our reality when you think about it. Even as someone who has watched almost every super hero movie (most multiple times), I too enjoy entertainment that isn’t about paying attention to overwrought plot lines and locations/abilities of OmniMcguffins.

The setting of The Boys feels very current and deals with many of the political issues we face right now. The push for fascism disguised as safety is a very old tale, but one that feels more relevant to me now than ever. The main superhero’s name is Homelander, I mean, it’s pretty on the nose. I really enjoyed the hell out of the series, and it takes on themes of sexual assault, elite class, corporate control, and even what is and isn’t “right” are pretty ageless. There is even a scene that shows racism is only as deep as the money.  The show continued to surprise to the end, and I loved not knowing what was going to happen. I also think everyone was cast really well. It’s my favorite Karl Urban role since Dredd and Elisabeth Shue just acts the hell out her scenes. In fact, all the main actors all have good chemistry in their scenes and its a compliment that other than Urban and Simon Pegg, I couldn’t immediately place any of the cast in other things I had seen. Being able to watch a show this well-done without the baggage of a Hemsworth, Johannsen, or Affleck, meant I could just pay attention to the show. A real ensemble effort instead of one actor doing all the heavy lifting.  The Boys won’t change your life, but it is refreshing and I’m eager for season 2.