Nostalgia Neverland: In Which A Writer Remebers His Childhood Through Robin Williams

Posted in Nostalgia with tags , , , , on August 19, 2014 by verbalirony
Robin Williams, circa Jumanji

Robin Williams during the filming of the movie, Jumanji.

The death of somebody you know is never an easy thing to deal with. I’ve been a very privileged individual when it has come to things like that. I never knew my mother’s parents and my grandmother on my father’s side is still alive and scolding me for my poor dietary choices from childhood. My immediate family is all still with me, and I’ve not had any close friends and/or even just people I know get into fatal accidents. I can’t imagine the heartache and pain people must go through when such a tragedy happens. That having been said, it’s never easy for me to hear when a famous celebrity that I grew up watching and effected my life in such a positive way has passed. When Bob Hoskins died earlier this year, I was devastated. This was a man whose films from The Super Mario Brothers to Who Framed Roger Rabbit that I loved as a kid (Well, okay, Super Mario Brothers not so much), and that I would watch whenever I was feeling down or needed a good pick-me up. Similarly, when Eileen Brennan, the actress who played Mrs. Peacock in the movie Clue, died last year of cancer, I was incredibly upset. However, while these to deaths were very tragic, both Hoskins and Brennan were well into the later part of their lives, being 71 and 80 respectively. That doesn’t make their deaths any less devastating, but they weren’t nearly as shocking as the deaths of others. I was completely taken off guard last Monday afternoon when I found out about the passing of Robin Williams, both in that he had died at such a young age, 63, but that it was also by his own doing. I’d not know that Williams had suffered from depression, especially given the long time career of uplifting and often times goofy films that he had behind. I’ve had many friends in the past who have suffered both short-term and long-term bouts of depression, and I know how greatly it affected their daily routines and their overall psyche. It amazes me that a man who brought joy not to just me, but millions, if not billions, of fans throughout his years as an actor. That just goes to show how truly devoted to his work this man was. I don’t want to glorify his suicide in any means possibly, because that would send out the wrong message to others struggling with the same issues that Robin Williams was. Instead, I want to do my best to sign lights on the things this man did while he was still alive that inspired me as a kid. I’ve always loved humor and absurdity, two things that Williams jam-packed into his roles, but with splashes or sometimes waves of serious drama and emotion. I want to remember the best of what this man offered because his death is the most tragic passing of a comedian that I can remember during my time.

Shots fired, Alan Moore.

Shots fired, Alan Moore.

Robin Williams’ roles in film and television were exceptionally brilliant to me, and a handful of them were some of my favorite things to watch over and over again. In memory of his passing, I want to recap the works of his that I watched in the past that made me appreciate and love the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Robin Williams.

"Oi! 10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck!"

“Oi! 10,000 years will give you such a crick in the neck!”

The Genie of the Lamp (Aladdin, 1992): My first and earliest memory of watching one of Robin Williams’ movie is one that is often times people’s first introduction to his work. Growing up, my family loved watching Disney’s animated movies, and from an early age on, I was seeing them regularly both in theaters when they were initially released and on VHS at home whenever I could. Even though I don’t remember seeing this in theaters (probably because I would have been two at the time), I do have fond memories involving watching this over and over and over again. For the longest part of my childhood, I believed Aladdin to be my favorite Disney movie, which has since moved on to become Beauty and the Beast. And let’s face it, if you watched Aladdin, pretty much your favorite or least favorite parts of the movie was the Genie of the lamp. And that’s pretty easy to see why. Robin Williams really sells the Genie as a cheeky but good-natured entity of power who grants wishes to whoever rubs his lamp. When he isn’t just mugging his various celebrity impression as a voice actor, Robin Williams actually brings a lot of compassion to the character. The parts where he is freed from his chains and when he reveals his wish were to no longer be trapped by the lamp he is confined within. He really sells the Genie as a very sympathetic character. However, the Genie is mostly remembered for the character voices that Williams pulls out every few minutes. They’re not all celebrity impersonations, such as when he turns into a bee to help Aladdin flirt with Jasmine, or when he just becomes a stylist or flight attendant for Aladdin.

"No Substitutions, Exchanges, Or Refunds"

“No Substitutions, Exchanges, Or Refunds”

But, let’s face it, the more memorable impersonations are the ones of celebrities. And, I’ll admit, as a kid, I didn’t understand that any of these voices were suppose to be impersonations. I mean, what kid (other than my older sister who loved old timey time films) was going to catch a Grouch Marx reference? Not too many kids even knew who Ed Sullivan was, let alone know that the Genie was pretending to be him for a schtick that realistically only the adults in the audience are going to understand. Which is apart of the appeal of the Genie to some people. He’s just a ridiculous character with pop culture reference after pop culture reference. Of course, this turns some people away as well, since this realistically is just Robin Williams doing a bunch of different goofy voices/impressions for 90 minutes. But to me, the Genie was always more than just that, and I love his performance here. He’s always present in the film and he steals the scene a lot, but he always contributes to the plot and entertains the audience. Overall, I think Robin Williams did a really fantastic job in integrating his style of comedy into such an odd concept of a character. Also, “Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me” is amazing in every single way possible. It is easily my favorite song from this movie, and Williams’ singing voice is pretty sweet. Definitely a classic performance for a classic movie.

HELLLLLOOOOOO!

More terrifying than Williams on Law and Order: SVU

Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire/ Daniel Hillard (Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993): My memories of Mrs. Doubtfire are not nearly as fond as Aladdin, probably because this movie is just in general far creepier than Aladdin. In fact, for an actor who was in at least two different suspenseful thrillers/horror movies and went on to cameo on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as an anarchist/  protestor, this is still legitimately the most horrifying roll I can remember Williams taking during my childhood. It doesn’t surprise me at all that people have taken the trailer for this movie and edited it to look like a horror film, because the concept of this movie is just really horrific. At the same time though, Robin Williams puts his voice work to good use once again here and does his great British old lady impression. I’ll admit, the comedy here isn’t the strongest, but some of the slapsticky stuff involving Williams having to disguise the fact that he is a dude are pretty funny. I especially love the scene in the restaurant when he finally gets caught by his wife and boss when his disguise begins to slip away after he saves James Bond from chocking. I also like that this move doesn’t attempt paint Daniel Hillard in a completely positive light. He gets punished for his negligence and only gets rewarded by his ex-wife out of the court, but for the most part, the character doesn’t completely get away with his crime.

Probably because he didn't have phenomenal cosmic powers.

Probably because he didn’t have phenomenal cosmic powers.

More than anything though, I love the interactions with the kids and Robin Williams, especially little Mara Wilson. Again, what I’m really nostalgic about is Williams’ ways of bringing joy and happiness to people, which is really highlighted but how entertaining he attempts to be when partying and playing with the kids. It’s very heartwarming, and while this isn’t my favorite film of Williams’ filmography, I certainly like the little moments of hope and inspiration they bring, especially the closing scene with the narration from Mrs. Doubtfire.

"It's the Law of the Jungle Sarah. You'll get use to it."

“It’s the Law of the Jungle Sarah. You’ll get use to it.”

Older Alan Parrish (Jumanji, 1995): Jumanji really begins to bring back a lot of memories from my childhood, even more so than Aladdin. Even though I watched Aladdin a lot more during my childhood, I can remember seeing Jumanji for the first time when I was a kid and just being totally captivated by all the crazy jungle animals and random events that were occurring. Having watched this movie very recently, I can say I have no idea what kind of drugs I was on when I was a kid, but the CGI and puppetry in this movie range from passable to laughable. The monkeys and spiders from this movie are quite terrible. The lion in particularly makes me laugh so much now seeing how cheesy the puppetry is during the movie. There’s also a lot of laughable acting coming from all the actors, Williams included. The most egregious of these scenes is when Alan traps the lion in Aunt Nora’s room and finds Peter and Judy hiding in closet. Everybody starts screaming, including Robin Williams, and his almost unemotional reaction while screaming at the children cracks me and my family up each and every time we see this movie. At the same time though, while this movie is pretty terrible in terms of acting, I can’t help but still love watching it. When I was young, this was actually one of the first videos I bought with my own money. I must have been like 5 or 8 when my mom gave me the cash I earned with good grades in school to go ahead and buy this movie at Wal-Mart.

"Did Somebody Say Five or Eight?!?!?!?!"

“Did Somebody Say Five or Eight?!?!?!?!”

Even just hearing the music from this movie makes me a little bit nostalgic. I remember watching this movie for the first time all the way through and getting totally pumped. And Robin Williams plays a huge part in that. I’ll be honest, the few sections of this movie with young Alan and the Peter and Judy’s house adventures before finding the board game drag a little bit. But once Robin shows up, the movie picks up. The comedy and action Williams shows, from fighting a lion, to wrestling with a couple of crocs, and fighting a huge plant with a fucking sword all demonstrate how badass Robin Williams was in this movie. Of course, these are juxtaposed against him yelling “Monkeys! Monkeys!” in the middle of the street. But I still have a lot of positive memories with Jumaji. If anything else, it made me interested in board games, a hobby which continues to this day, showcased my love of exotic animals, and of course made me appreciate Robin Williams ability to adapt to different genres. He isn’t just a comedy guy, he showed how he can be actiony and dramatic here too, no matter how hammy it comes across. All in all, I love everything about this movie, from the rhymes that set up the events of the game to the crazy hunter and his antics and of course, the energy that Robin Williams brings to this movie.

Splat

“Bangarang!”

Peter Banning/Peter Pan (Hook, 1991): Far and beyond my favorite movie involving Robin Williams and also one of the most nostalgic movie of my childhood, Hook is easily a classic film that holds up a lot for me. Having watched this movie quite recently, I can still see some of the flaws within it. Like Jumanji, the first part of the film drags on just a little bit too much as we see how monotonous Peter’s life is, but other than I usually become really just enthralled by Hook. We had Hook on VHS growing up, and that tape got a decent amount of mileage out of it. I must have watched it at least once a month, if not just for the scene where Banning sits down with the Lost Boys while they eat the imaginary goods of Neverland. Even though the food just kind of looks like playdoh, frosting, and the model food for magazines in the 90s, but as a kid I wanted to eat all of it and participate in the food fight the kids have. Hell, even as an adult I want to reenact this scene. That’s one thing that I love about this film more than the others: Neverland is just a visual orgasm for your eyes. Everything on the lost boys side of the world is bright and colorful, while the pirates side is clustered and busy, but still visually an amazing sight to observe. The music that John Williams brought to the film also really brings me back to my childhood, especially the songs “The Banquet” and “Flight to Neverland”, which are the two songs which I remember most fondly because they involve the scenes with the most heavily childlike whimsy to them. And don’t even get me started on the video game and how it incorporated the music from the film.

Seriously, Don't Get Me Started, We Could Be Here For A While

Seriously, Don’t Get Me Started, We Could Be Here For A While

But most of all, I love Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Peter Banning, because he really sells both roles, one as a frustrated father who works his life away for his family, but loses sight of what he fought so hard for in his life, and the other as a young punk whose youth serves mainly to show how Peter still needs to grown up in order to win back his family. Easily one of my favorite scenes of any film that Robin Williams has been in is the scene on Hook’s ship when Peter is just taking out the pirates, and begins to monologue about his training and reveals that Jack and Maggie are his happy thought. Well….mostly Jack, Maggie isn’t really in that scene, but I digress. It’s an extremely heartwarming moment, because Williams’ acting really emphasizes the father’s love for his kids.

Peter Pan Has Kids?

Peter Pan Has Kids?

Look, it’s an awesome movie, so just role with it. There are other really great scenes involving Robin Williams that I just really love watching are the ones involving the Lost Boys and Rufio. When Peter first meets the Lost Boys, I love seeing how much the enjoy torturing the poor man and when the boys decide to side with Peter. You can tell by the way he interacted with the children in this film that Williams really enjoyed himself and had great chemistry with the kids, because they just seem to glow and act so excited in every scene. I imagine that the filming for this must have been a ton of fun. And of course, my favorite scene of the movie, the flyting scene between Rufio and Peter. Flyting is any time you have an exchange of insults, and here it’s taken to the most juvenile of levels with such classics as “Math Tutor” and “Boil-dripping, beef, fart-sniffing bubble butt“, and once Robin Williams gets in the zone he gets in the zone and schools Dante Basco. I don’t know why, but now I can only imagine this as an “8 Mile” esque free-style battle between the actors. And the food fight that ensues is glorious. When it comes down to it, I will always love this film, and Robin Williams acting in it. Its themes appeal a lot to me and I can’t help but get emotional when watching it, both happiness from the memories of watching it while growing up and sadness of knowing about Mr. Williams’ passing, along with his co-star, Bob Hoskins, who played an excellent Mr. Smee. Truly this is one of Robin’s films that defined my childhood. He was, and shall forever be, the Pan.

Playing Zelda With Zelda? What A Country!

Playing Zelda With Zelda? What A Country!

Avid Video Game Player/ Father A.K.A: Robin Williams (Ocarina of Time commercial, 2011): Alright, this last one is slightly cheating a bit, because this commercial is from well into my adulthood. But this commercial does make me nostalgic for my childhood, courtesy of Robin Williams. Watching him play video games and interact with his daughter Zelda, who was named after the titular princess from the Legend of Zelda series, always brought me back to 90s. I remember playing Ocarina of Time when it first came out for the Nintendo 64 way back in 1998 with my older brother, sister, and dad. My dad bought the player’s guide and everything, and kept asking us whether we had beaten Ganon or not. Seeing Robin Williams play video games  with Zelda also reminds me of playing video games with my family in general as well, which made up a huge part of my childhood. Ah, simpler times. Plus, it’s just cool knowing how huge of a fan of the Zelda series Williams was. He looks like he is having in these commercials. I wish there had been more than just the few commercials that were aired. Robin Williams could have sold any of Zelda games to me. Hell, if Robin Williams was in any commercial, I’d probably buy whatever he was selling.

Even A Breakable Combination Hookah and Coffee Maker That Also Makes Julienned Fries.

Even A Breakable Combination Hookah and Coffee Maker That Also Makes Julienned Fries.

Overall, this man just brings back so many memories of my childhood, and it’s hard to imagine that he has passed away. His films will forever hold a special place in my heart. Of course, I’ve seen many more of Robin Williams’ works, but these works are the ones that had the biggest impact on my childhood. Robin Williams is a legendary man, whose comedic styling, dramatic acting, eccentric voice performances, and energetic personality are on a hold other level. He will be missed, and I hope that he has impacted the lives of others in a similar manner that he touched my life. Rest in Piece, Robin Williams.

RIP Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

RIP Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

Rick and Morty: In Which A Disturbingly Funny Cartoon Inspires A Writer To Blog (pt. 2)

Posted in Lists, Review, Television with tags , on August 11, 2014 by verbalirony

Continuing on from where I left off from my previous post:

Meh, Let's Get Started Already

Meh, Let’s Get Started Already

6) Something Ricked This Way Comes (Episode 9): I was always a huge fan of the Twilight Zone growing up, a show which predominately featured both the Devil and ironically cursed items as a huge twists to the episode, so this episode was right up my alley. Summer picks up a job working in a shop for the Devil who sells, you guessed it, ironically cursed items. Rick makes it his mission to put an end to this by being the dick that he is decursing the items for a profit. Meanwhile, Morty and Jerry are making a model solar system, but argue over whether Pluto is really a planet. When Jerry tries to reestablish Pluto as a planet in the scientific community, Plutonians come down to Earth and recognize him as a national hero. What I love about this episode is that it takes two extremely absurd plots and just runs with them. The concept of the Jerry’s story is just beyond ridiculous. But the escalation of the Pluto plot continues on and connects two characters, Jerry and Morty, who don’t generally have a lot of interaction with each other. The Summer and Rick plot has the same feel to it as well, since Summer and Rick are usually at such huge odds with each other. That’s also what give the ending of this episode such a great feel along with the choice of music that goes along with it (DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It To Ya). A strong episode overall, just shy of landing in the top five. 3.5 Stars.

5) Lawnmower Dog (Episode 2): “Rick and Morty” really shines when plots are running forward at such full force guns blazing that you’re wondering what’s happening in both plots while the other is going on and wondering how much it will have gone to shit when you return to it. One reason that “Something Ricked” isn’t as strong as the next five is that both plots were strong, but they were a little slow and didn’t escalate terribly fast. “Lawnmower Dog” does not suffer from this issue. This is fantastic, especially since it immediately follows the pilot, which felt really slow. Both plots of this episode, one following Rick and Morty jumping into people’s dreams à la Inception and the other following Jerry, Beth, and Summer using one of Rick’s technological doohickey to train their dog Snuffles, are both strong enough plots to basically carry the episode on its own, but the way the weave back and forth leave you wondering how far gone the other plot is. The Scary Terry bits of this episode are amazing, and easily my favorite quote from any episode comes from this episode, which is when Rick shows up to tell Morty that they are actually in Snuffles’ Snowball’s dream, and can’t emphasize enough how real the crap in Morty’s pants actually is. He keeps piling it on, no pun intended. This episode actually got me hooked into the series, as it demonstrates the writers talents of keeping the audience laughing while also moving the plot forward without useless filler. Definitely a 4 Star episode.

Dimensional Travel Just Gets Silly When You Come Right Down To It.

Dimensional Travel Just Gets Silly When You Come Right Down To It.

4) Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind (Episode 10): Parallel dimension sequences are always apt for hilarity. One of the best episodes of “Futurama” is the episode “The Farnsworth Parabox”, which has the crew going from one parallel dimension to the next. This episode is very reminiscent of that episode, as Rick and Morty are on the run from the Council of Ricks, made up of all the Ricks from other dimensions, all of who have a Morty by their side. The subplot for this episode is alright, but it’s not terribly strong, as Jerry interacts with a version of Rick who turns out to be extremely nice, but is looked down upon the other Ricks. It’s still funny, but the episode mainly revolves around Rick and Morty on the run looking for the Rick who has been murdering other Ricks. (Extremely complicated, I know). “Close Rick-Counters” is amazing for a couple of reasons. The first is because of a plot point the shows establishes in this episode. Rick reveals that all versions of Rick have a distinctbrainwave, which is cloaked by the counter brain waves of their respective Morty, which deeply upsets Morty who thinks he’s just a tool for Rick. The tension between Morty and Rick is much more personal here, which sets up the finale very well. I also love theMortys believing there is a True Morty who will save them. But by far the best part of this episode is the inter-dimensional chase scene, which has Morty and Rick going through a universe where pizza is using a phone to order people, a universe where phones use a person to order furniture (as they sit on pizza), and a universe where a chair uses a pizza to order a cell phone, while sitting on a person. It’s a very quick jump that uses basically different iterations of the same dialogue, but it’s just hilarious seeing each universe. Overall, this episode has great call backs to the previous adventures Rick and Morty have had, and seeing all the different versions of the duo is fantastic. With a quick pace, great plot, and comedy gold from the different dimensions, this episode earns a solid 4 Stars.

Remember Kids, If Hepatitis A is Threatening To Kill You, Just Wait For Hepatitis C To Come Along!

Remember Kids, If Hepatitis A is Threatening To Kill You, Just Wait For Hepatitis C To Come Along!

3) Anatomy Park (Episode 3): “Don’t move, gonorrhea can’t see us if we don’t move. *loud roar* Wait, I was wrong, I was thinking of a T-Rex!”. Anatomy Park, an obvious parody of Jurassic Park, but within a human bum body and revolving around diseases and anatomy-based attractions. Once again, we see an episode that divides between two distinct plot lines, with Jerry, Summer, and Beth dealing with Jerry’s parents arriving for Christmas with their caretaker/lover. Things get awkward very quickly. Once again, this episode knows how to pace itself with the escalation for both plots, as Morty’s adventure gets grimmer and grimmer with more disease like monsters attacking him while in Anatomy Park, and Jerry’s parents revealing way too much about to sexual lives, which everybody but Jerry seems to be strangely okay with. What I love about this episode are the short brief pauses that really heighten the jokes, such as the first quote I used. This episode sets up really quality moments that deliver really funny punches, so as the Professor awkwardly asking whose going to sacrifice themselves when Morty, Annie, and him realize only two people could escape (except he forgot about auto-pilot) and the hilarious moment when a giant Hepatitis A monster chasing Morty and Annie is killed by a giant Hepatitis C monster, which just gives the thumbs up and walks away.  Out of any moment of the first season of “Rick and Morty”, that may be my favorite overall. And of course, the running gag involving Rick’s Pirates of the Pancreas is a joke that well suited for me. What the heck would that ride be anyway? Your guess is as good as mine. Overall, this was my favorite episode throughout most of the season and was almost in my top two episodes. 4.5 Stars.

2) Rick Potion #9 (Episode 6): As I mentioned earlier, what really makes “Rick and Morty” a classic show is when they just say “Fuck It” and go way the hell out there. “Rick Potion #9” begins with a very simple concept, Morty wanting to gothe the school dance with his crush, Jessica, and asks Rick to make him a love potion so Jessica will like him. Rick says there won’t be any side-effects, waiting until Morty leaves to say, “Unless she has the flu.”Flash-foward to Flu Season Dance (Oh Rick and Morty, always looking for cheap but funny laugh), where Jessica’sflue spreads to everybody after Morty gives her the potion, and everybody turns into a Morty-seeking zombie as the attempt to ravish him, much to his initial desire and eventual chagrin. That’s only the first five or so minutes of the episode. Things pretty much continue to fall apart fromthere moving forward. Suddenly, ina inane attempt to stop the virus from plaguing the world, Rick makes a solution from praying mantis genes (because why the hell not), which turns everybody into praying mantisesque monsters, all still desperately seeking Morty. This is only eight minutes into the episode. The episode just keeps on going in this samevain, to the point where Rick tuns everybody into “Cronenburgs” amorphous blobs, that are still hungry for Morty. This clocks in at about thirteen minutes into atwenty minute episode. I mean, how else can this get worse? That’s really what’s glorious about this episode. You know if the writers wanted to, they could easily just keepuping the ante more and more, pushing the joke further and further each time. The side plot involving Jerry and Beth dealing with their marriage during this apocalypse is yet another stroke of genius, as they adapt to killing these monsters far too quickly and actually begin to bond over this terrible situation. And there’s a Hemingway killing himself with a shotgun penis joke thrown in for fun. The ending of this episode is pretty much a genius payoff for an already top quality episode. I won’t spoil how things get resolved, but I will say it involves carnage and inter-dimensional travel. Also, I think this is the most critically acclaimed episode of “Rick and Morty”, which doesn’t surpriseme at all. It’s a basically perfect episode, and earns a well deserved 5 Stars. When I saw this episode, I didn’t think anything would be able to top it. Oh, how I was wrong.

Ants in my Eyes Johnson. He has Ants in his Eyes.

Ants in my Eyes Johnson. He has Ants in his Eyes.

1) Rixty Minutes (Episode 8): It’s incredibly ironic that my favorite episode of “Rick and Morty” doesn’t particularly feature Rick and Morty all that much. In fact, it also doesn’t feature Beth, Jerry, and Summer all that much either. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all still in this episode and have a clear plot that they focus on, but this episode actually follows a series vignettes via the commercials on television. The episode begins with Rick hacking the satellite to expand to other dimensions and universes so the family can watch all sorts of different programs from other worlds. Jerry, Summer, and Beth obsess over an alternative world Jerry they see on David Letterman, so Rick gives them goggles that allow them to see through the eyes of their dimensional doubles. The side plot is really engaging, as once again, there’s a lot of emphasis on the struggles of Beth and Jerry’s marriage. The ending to this episode is actually pretty heartfelt and warming, so I won’t go too much into. It’s a conclusion you just have to see for yourself and enjoy the fact that the creators of this show aren’t the soul stealing heartless monsters that must create the type of comedy this show delivers. But, back to Rick and Morty, the vignettes are really the show stoppers here. All of the inter-dimensional shows and creations, from the universe where hamsters live in peoples butts, to the infomercial about a used door salesmen whose commercial goes on eerily past the point where it’s concluded, to Turbulent Juice, and the trailer for “Alien Invasion Tomato Monster Mexican Armada Brothers Who Are Just Regular Brothers Running From An Asteroid And All Sorts of Things: The Movie”. All of the commercials are just brilliant, and seeing Morty and Rick’s confusion and awe from all of them just hilarious. But by far my favorite of these commercials, and my favorite one-off character is Ants in my Eyes Johnson Electronics. This commercial is just so absurd, so twisted, so weird, and I’m in love with it. I don’t even know how to properly describe why. It’s just….he has Ants….in his eyes. And he sells electronics. And demented weird. I just don’t even understand how somebody even thinks up something like this. Overall, these vignettes really demonstrate the strength of the writers and the humor that makes this show so amazing. They are quick and dark and absurd, and they are funny as all hell. This episode is easily my favorite episode, and the ending solidifies that. Overall, I can’t recommend this episode any more than just giving 5 Stars. Truly a perfect episode.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I really enjoyed this show. Everything from the characters, the plots, the dialogue, and even the animation as cheap and odd as it may be (the characters pupils all have a weird scribbly look to them) all sold me into loving this show. The dark sense of playfulness this show displays may not be for everybody, but it’s the kind of show that particularly tickles my sides. As previously mentioned, if you marathon the show, give the pilot episode a chance, because it may not be the best introduction to this show, but it still gives you a decent idea of what is to come. And really, that’s all you can ask for. Dan Harmon delivers another great series, and I hope this one doesn’t go the way of “Community”. All in all, I have a new series to look forward to later this year.

For now, later days.

Agree or disagree with my ranking/ analysis? Feel free to comment or bother me via email/ twitter.

Rick and Morty: In Which A Disturbingly Funny Cartoon Inspires A Writer To Blog (pt. 1)

Posted in Lists, Review, Television with tags , , , on August 11, 2014 by verbalirony
Rick and Morty: Adventures In Child Abuse and Alcoholism

Rick and Morty: Adventures In Child Abuse and Alcoholism

After watching the first two episodes of “Rick and Morty”, I was already hooked into the show, and after the third episode, I knew it was going to be the first thing that I review in a blog. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. First a brief story and recap.

I love watching cartoons far more than I like watching live-action television. Cartoons have always captured my attention because they don’t exist in a world that has to follow the laws and physics of actual reality. Most television shows don’t either, but cartoons are able to push it to the next degree, which leads to much better comedic aspects. If a safe hits you in a cartoon, you’ll probably survive, albeit with stars or tweety birds circling your head. And I’m all for that. I love the absurdity and, to a degree, the immaturity that comes from cartoons. That being said, I’m also not a huge fan of crass humor. There are exceptions of course. South Park knows when they’re going too far, and then they go one step further. Family Guy knows it’s a stupid show, but you’ll keep watching it even if they’re on their sixth giant chicken fight. But for the most part, I’m not a fan of a lot of cartoons that go that route, especially of the shows presented on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, which are usually very violent and full of stupid dumb humor.

Enter “Rick and Morty”, a show for all intents and purposes, shouldn’t be a show I care all that much about. It’s full of regular humor that normally I just roll my eyes at. However, under the recommendation of a friend whose humor and taste in cartoons is similar to mine, I decided to give it a watch. I remained unimpressed after the first episode, but I pushed onward, searching for a reason why I should like this show. I found it in the second episode, “Lawnmower Dog”, and in the next episode, and the next, and the next, etc. Truthfully, I’ve never been one to judge a show by its first episode, so I’m really glad I gave this one a chance.

But let’s not bury the lead.

Rick and Morty in the Pilot Episode

Rick and Morty in the Pilot Episode

What is the show: “Rick and Morty” is a cartoon from the creator of “Community”, Dan Harmon, and Justin Roiland, who provides the voices for the titular characters. When it comes down to it, “Rick and Morty” follows the story of Rick Sanchez, a scientist who lives with his daughter Beth, her husband Jerry, and their two children, Summer and Morty. Morty and Rick go on regular adventures that are anything but regular, often times involving a new invention that Rick has created. Sounds like any sort of cartoon that would be aired on Nickelodeon? Well, it should be mentioned that Rick is a narcissistic and alcoholic asshole not too nice guy. Morty’s parents are neglectful morons and his sister is a typical seventeen year old cartoon character, obsessed with her own popularity. Morty is the everyman young kid trying to deal with all the insane project Rick throws his way, which often times involves dismemberment and being shot at by aliens or inter-dimensional monsters. Rick constantly drags his grandson along with him for his own selfish and awful reasons because he loves him so much! The show follows a standard adventure of the week format and tends to have dual plots going on, one involving Rick and Morty, and the other involving the rest of the Smith family.

The Reason to Watch The Show: The show has a lot of dark and sick humor to it, but it’s the kind of humor that I can appreciate. Rick is regularly an jerk to his family and is extremely neglectful to Morty, who often times becomes the unintentioned fall guy for his grandfather’s antics, mostly because Rick is quick to point the blame at anybody he can for his incredibly illegal questionably moral actions. But all of this is apart of the charm of the show. Despite his unabashed awfulness, there are a lot of tender moments between Rick and Morty, especially in the later episodes where their characters are fleshed out more. With only eleven episodes in its first season, I was able to watch the entire show in a couple of hours, and those couple of hours went by quickly, because this show often has a very quick paced nature to it, jumping between Rick and Morty’s science experiments gone wrong and Jerry, Beth, and Summer dealing with other science experiments gone wrong at home. Every episode tends to end with the family all together and Rick cracking a joke that the entire family laughs at, despite the morose nature of the situation they have escaped from in each episode. All in all, its a solid first season, and the second season is slated to begin later this year or early next year. I highly recommend it to anybody who is a fan of “South Park” and/or “Bob’s Burgers”. It made me laugh in nearly every single episode, and it is exactly what I needed to push me to begin writing again. For a more in depth look at the show, I’m going to rank the eleven episodes of the series, which may get into spoilers for anybody who hasn’t watched the cartoon. If you haven’t, I would recommend you watch it before reading my list. There’s not really much to spoil, but it’s a funny show, so you should just go watch it anyway.

The Episodes:

Me, almost giving up on the series after the pilot. Don't be a Morty!

Me, almost giving up on the series after the pilot. Don’t be a Morty!

11) The Pilot (Episode 1): A show should never be based solely on the strength of its pilot episode, “Rick and Morty” especially so. Although there are a lot of funny moments here, like the opening bit where Rick drunkenly stumbles into Morty’s room to drag him along on a new adventure or Morty’s dream about fondling his crush’s breasts as he fondles his teacher during a math test, overall, this episode is very slow compared to the rest of season. The creators were obviously still trying to work out all the kinks of the show, as Summer, Jerry, and Beth aren’t in in much and we mainly focus on Rick and Morty. That may be the overall issue with this episode, because my initial reaction was that I didn’t like Rick at all, which nearly made me quit on the show before finishing the episode. Like, I said though, pilots are usually rough, so I’m willing to forgive it, and so should you. Two Stars overall though.
10) Raising Gazorpazorp (Episode 7): Raising Gazorpazorp isn’t the greatest of episodes overall, but it has a lot of great moments. The episode follows Rick buying Morty a sex robot, which gets pregnant and spews out an alien child, Morty’s son. Meanwhile, Summer and Rick track down the planet where the genes of the alien come from, which is populated by stupid war mongering males controlled by high advanced intelligent women. What I don’t like about this episode is that it plays heavily into stereotypes regarding women and Rick’s obvious sexist remarks are very grating to me. But I like the message that the episode channels through Summer, whose speech regarding men and women on her planet prevents the female aliens from slaughtering her and Rick. Morty’s side plot regarding raising his son, who is also thirsts for blood and death like other males of his species, and how he develops into a snotty teenager, though a snotty teenager who thirsts for death and blood. Although this episode follows a pretty obvious plot line, it’s still a solid episode that delivers some very funny actions. Not as great as most episodes of “Rick and Morty” but still watchable. Two and half stars.

9) Meeseeks & Destroy (Episode 5): Beginning immediately with Morty complaining that he never gets a say in the adventures, this episode follows Rick as he allows Morty to pick where they go during their next mission, while the rest of the family deals with Rick’s Meseeks, polite entities which appear to perform a simple task and then detonate into thin air. This episode features two fantastic plots, as we see the struggles of Morty’s parents in their marriage once Jerry becomes obsessed with getting his golf game improved and the Meseeks are unable to help him (and therefore continue to live on and go crazy). Jerry and Beth are developed a lot more here and they become much more sympathetic than in previous episodes. Meanwhile, Rick and Morty’s relationship is also developed a lot more. Despite mostly trying to ruin Morty’s adventure out of callous spite, Rick demonstrates a lot of humility when he rescues the day and helps Morty bring a happy ending to his quest. Also, he almost gets raped by a Jelly Bean. Don’t ask, this episode goes to some weird places. A great episode, 3 Stars overall.

Jerry's ad campaign, "Hungry For Apples?"

Jerry’s ad campaign, “Hungry For Apples?”

8) M. Night Shaym-Aliens! (Episode 4): One of the best aspects of “Rick and Morty” is how much the show doesn’t take anything seriously and just rockets to eleven right off the bat. This episode exemplifies that, as within minutes of the opener, Rick and Morty are both naked in a shower hiding from aliens who are too embarrassed to look at naked people. What makes this episode great is how it pokes fun at stupid twists, with a great “Simulation of a Simulation in another Simulation” joke that actually caught me off guard. David Cross guest stars here as the head alien, and he really sells an incompetent and petty leader. Jerry’s plot involving creating an ad campaign for apples, “The Milk people don’t have a patent on rhetorical questions!”, is hilarious, as Jerry is the only person other than Rick and Morty within the simulation and doesn’t realize it despite the sheer stupidity of the fake humans. Overall, this “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” is a great episode that uses great twists to enhance the in your face stupidity of the plot. Another 3 Star Episode.

7) Ricksy Business (Episode 11): Just shy of being in the better half of the first season’s episodes, the finale of “Rick and Morty” season one is a great call back to a lot of the running jokes throughout the first ten episodes. The episode’s two plots are both very strong, with Jerry and Beth leaving for a reenactment of the Titanic and Summer and Rick throwing parties at the Smith household which ends up trashing the joint. The plot with Beth and Jerry is great, once again using Jerry’s extreme stupidity and the distance in the Smith’s marriage only to bring them back together. And of course, there’s a disturbing Titanic fanatic who holds Jerry at gunpoint and forces him to draw her in the nude. Because of course, that’s why. Meanwhile, the parties accidentally send the Smith’s house to another dimension, and Morty grows increasingly frustrated with his grandfather’s negligence, which is a huge part of the plot throughout most of the season and is played out and focused on a lot more in this episode. The ending to the season is great, and I won’t spoil this episode too much, but I will say my second favorite one time character throughout any episode of “Rick and Morty” is easily Abradolf Lincler, a failed experiment of Rick’s where he combined Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. While it’s not the best or funniest episode of the season, there is definitely a sense of closure and a heartwarming moment that really shines some light on Rick. Overall, 3.5 Stars for the final episode.

Alright, this post is already too freaking long, so I will split this post right here and continue my list on to the next post. Until then, later days, and remember: Wubalubadubdub!

 

Bats In The Belfry: In Which A Writer Finds A Channel For His Eccentric Tastes In Stuff

Posted in Introduction, The Beginning with tags , , on August 10, 2014 by verbalirony

”If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” ~ Some kid from some book.

What happens when crazy amounts of free time meets a crazy amount a stupid thoughts? Apparently I start a blog is what happens.

Hello, world. My name is Robert. I am an English graduate student currently attending Cal Poly Pomona, earning my MA with a focus on two types of literature (World Literature and British).  I enjoy reading, writing, playing video games, watching television, and other things, I guess.  I also tutor students in my school’s writing center and force them to listen to me talk about why English is awesome.

And now I have a blog.

The construction and creation of which was a long time in the making. This blog has actually technically existed for probably a good three years. I just never found the energy or time to commit myself to produce anything worthwhile onto this page. However, a frustrating four years of college and year of graduate school in which I have not really written any solid material of work despite my insistence in calling myself an author has lead me to impasse of creativity and desire to write.

An impasse which ends today.

Accurate depiction of me while not writing.

An accurate depiction of me while not writing.

It took a very long weekend, a few conversations with friends, a severe headache from lack of eating, and a nostalgic trip down memory lane via reading my old stories from my freshmen year of college and cheesy cards I made my friends in high school to realize that, above all else, my heart lies in writing down my observations of the world and channeling them into sarcastic/funny summaries of my everyday life. Writing, as it is, remains to be my passion, because it grants me the ability to say what is on my mind.I just needed to find a reason to make some sort of product to put up. And after watching a cartoon that I’ve been meaning to see, I found it.

I have no idea what I want to do with this, but I figured that I could use this as a good forum to voice my opinion and thoughts on topics that matter to me, and should matter to you. Everything from review of books, television, games, movies or publishing works of original fiction. Whether or not that gets accomplished is inconsequential. Deal with it.

And so it goes.

Questions or comments? Contact me at rezavala42@gmail.com or @rezavala42 on twitter.