Saturday, March 4, 2017

CARTOON REVIEW: Family Guy, "You May Now Kiss the, uh, Guy Who Receives"

Been a loooooong time since I was here last. New laptop. Working two jobs. Personal life's been nuts lately. Meanwhile, I was dabbling in making my own game... but I'll get to that at a later date.

What really got me to come back was a comment on my last review: the "Meet the Quagmires" episode of Family Guy, which if you recall was nothing but Seth MacFarlane's unhealthy obsession with the 1980's for twenty-odd minutes. One user complained about all the hate the show gets, comparing it to the hatedom the Sonic series seems to get.

The difference between Sonic and Family Guy is that the former at least tries to do better. It's come a long way since 2006 when S-Genesis, S-Rivals, and Secret Rings were released (there were reports of a fourth game, but it seems to be a ghost story). Some of the newer ones are better than others, though those S-Boom games are pretty much a quick-buck rush job to cash in on a cartoon.

Family Guy has also come a long way since 2006. A long way down. Thoroughly unlikable characters, three minutes of Conway Twitty to pad out an episode, and ratings traps out the wazoo. Back when it was revived, admitting that you didn't like the cartoon led to you being torn apart by the cartoon's brainless fan-zombies.

Things are different now. People are older and wiser.

Since the last FG evisceration was such a hit (for me), I think I should do another one. If not for kicks, then for the guy who ran to support it.

Riddle me this, Batman: "What happens when MacFarlane tries to bring representation to LGBT people?" Find out with "You May Now Kiss the, uh, Guy Who Receives".

THE ANALYSIS

We start at the airport where the Griffins go to pick up the episode's figurehead Brian's gay cousin Jasper and his boyfriend... but we'll burn that bridge in a moment, we're almost at the 00:45 mark and the manatees are getting antsy because they haven't made a cutaway yet.

Moby Dick complaining about not getting the cereal he wants. Yawn.
Stewie sneaks away from his relatives, talks a flight operator into taking a smoke break, and proceeds to direct Matthew McConaughey's private jet into the ocean. Pretty much in the same vein as classic Stewie, but starting to slip into what he devolved into now.

Also, is it just me or does MacFarlane have a real hate-on for McConaughey? I don't get it.

Then Jasper's plane lands, complete with a pink triangle decal, and simulates anal penetration with the docking equipment. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the First Grade!

This is where the fun begins...

Our heroes for the episode, ladies and gentlemen... if you can call them that.

Enter Jasper, or as I affectionately call him, "the Tumor". He'd previously appeared before when Brain went to Hollywood and became a porn director. Now he's been brought back because he's convenient for the plot. There's only one problem: the character himself.

Remember what I said that in spite of MacFarlane's supposed pro-LGBT stances, he can only portray them as negative stereotypes? Surprise! That's the Tumor's whole schtick.

Look at the dude! It's like Jack Chick, Che Guevara, David Duke, and Fred Phelps somehow transcended time, came together, and collaborated on his character. Not helping things is that annoying lisp that people gave them back in the day and the stock mannerisms to boot. He's like the gay equivalent of blackface!

Hell, I'm not even gay and I feel insulted by his presence!

I'm not the most politically correct person by any stretch of the imagination, but geez! Who thought this character was a good idea?

"EIGHTIES!"

Oh.

Anyway, Jasper talks about his flight over and talks about how much he wanted to bang a couple of sailors or something, I don't know! I can't get past his lisp and vocabulary. Stewie thinks he'll work out as well has Peter did when he joined the Proclaimers.

Ooh! We went 2.5 minutes without a non-sequitur!

The joke here is that Testes Chin wants to be the lead singer, but he can't sing.

Later, Quahog's mayor, Adam West (I wonder if Burt Ward has a part in the town government) is about to unveil a statue. At the same time, Chris is struggling to work up the gumption to talk to some girl called Melissa. Dude, save that hetero crap for some other time! This episode's obviously not about dudes who like boobs!

West dedicates this statue to the recently-fallen in the Iraq War:

Sculpted by Chris Bores.
Needless to say that the town isn't pleased by a statue to a cereal mascot (though given Kellogg's financial woes in recent months, they would have been grateful). Melissa is disgusted by how much tax money was spent on the statue and all Chris can think about is the time he and his friends ate mushrooms and got deep voices from doing so... guess the writers had ten seconds left to fill.

For dinner, the Griffins go eat Greek and Tumor runs his mouth about how much he likes Lois' earrings. Then Stewie pretty much voices how I feel about the whole depiction of their characters, which results in the Tumor and Ricardo dancing to a beat Stewie was trying to mock them with. How far back has this episode set the gay community back? To 1982?

Peter asks a question about shower-porking at the YMCA, which makes Lois prompt a cutaway about Popeye going to the doctor.

You say human beings aren't supposed to look like that, doc?
I don't think men were meant to have waddles like a rooster.
Wasn't that just funny? Just listen to Popeye's gibberish. I think I need new boxers after all that laughing.

But seriously, I don't get it. Was Jack Mercer too hard to understand or something?

Aw, who am I kidding? This whole cutaway was just to fill up a gap.

Back to the plot... the big reveal the Tumor wants to give is that he wants to marry Ricardo. The fact that one is a human and the other is a dog is one thing, but it would seem that that aspect was lost on the writers.

Then Stewie gives a bit of routine Meg-bashing, based on the situation of the discovery of same-sex marriage:

You hear that Meg? Guys can marry other guys now. So, ummm... this is awkward, but... I mean, if they can do that.. that's pretty much it for you, isn't it? Might as well pack it in, game over.


If I may borrow the phrase: "Shut up, Stewie."

The next day, Chris finds Melissa, who invites him to a Young Republicans meeting.

W-W-W-Wait. Republicans? In a Seth MacFarlane cartoon?
Why do I get the feeling this is going to be a one-way street?
Let's hear Melissa explain their meetings:

We help those who already have the means to help themselves. Also, we perpetuate the idea that Jesus chose America to destroy nonbelievers and brown people.
Knew it, knew it, KNEW IT!

Not understanding her, Chris goes to a meeting of the Society of Arch-Republican Students (SARS). The club chancellor (Ah, trying to go for a Hitler thing. How... trite) tells Chris that in order to join, he has to insult Bill Clinton. He does so when Bubba is out being, well, Bubba...

Oh, if only the Popular Vote had actual merit, then
America would have this bozo back in the White House.
But seriously, Hillary can kiss a duck's ass.

Meanwhile, people are protesting the Dig 'Em statue, resident Jewish stereotype Mort Goldman takes offense to his name including a contraction. Yyyyyeah, just wait until Road to the Multiverse (if I choose to do another one).

West tries to find a distraction from a handy-dandy list which includes scapegoating blacks, the French, Jews (twice, hur hur), before trying to jingle his keys before the mob. Doesn't work well, but it's smirk-worthy.

Cut to Seth MacFarlane's Sound of Music, which involves a nun decapitating Franz. Geez, I hope MacFarlane doesn't attempt to remake that movie...

When the Tumor reveals that they're going to hold the wedding at the Griffin residence, Lois gets nervous at the news. Of course, Mr. Bullhorn is on board with the whole thing (Seriously, they didn't even ask his owners?).

Lois isn't comfortable about the wedding and tries to talk to Peter about it. He's indifferent about the situation, saying it's no big deal... and they get interrupted by the news that West has put prohibition on SSM in Quahog in order to make people forget about the Dig 'Em statue.

So wait. This is an episode focusing on SSM?
Oh, the ban will get lifted by the end!

Then Matthew McConaughey shows up, having survived the crash, and Stewie kills him with an arrow. Seriously, what's the story?

Buck up, Tumor! It's not like a bunch of jihadists are going to
use you to see if gravity still works!

The Tumor's upset that he can't get his wedding and Brian encourages him to keep fighting. Peter, meanwhile, stuffs his face with brownies from a gay bakery that the Tumor got to comfort his depression. So, if he's a dog, why would he eat chocolate if it would kill him? Is he that suicidal? I don't want to sound like a monster, but given the dude's bad rep among people, they'd probably welcome him scarfing it down.

By the way, innuendo about the brownie having nuts and fudge. I'm pretty sure that joke came from someone who hasn't learned how to count past ten yet.

The Tumor leaves the dining room and won't be seen again until he gets married.

Brian resolves to fix things so the wedding can happen. The Tumor, after all, did so much for Brian. Like the time he let Brian room with him in West Hollywood when he was a porn director, or...

Uh...

I can't remember anything. If there were a cutaway here (an appropriate time), it would help. But those are just used for incoherent jokes by this time.

Chris, now dolled up in his Sunday best because he's fallen in with Brian/Seth's idea of "the wrong crowd" says that the Bible says SSM is an abomination. Brian takes offense and this and shoots back "Oh, don't give me that Young Republican crap, Chris! The Bible also says a senior citizen built an ark and rounded up two of every animal."

Yyyyyeah... gonna show your Christophobia, eh, MacFarlane?
First, off there were seven pairs of each kosher and one pair of each unclean animal type.
Secondly, despite what Ken Ham or Kirk Cameron* will tell you, the early chapters of Genesis were intended to be quasi-parodies of the Creation and Flood myths of the Jews' pagan neighbors in order to show reality as having purpose.

What? I can't continue my tangent? I have to go back to the review?
Fine.

Aaand the manatees give us Noah, an elephant, a penguin, and a biological impossibility.
(Is it a mammal or did the Penguiphant hatch from an egg?)

So Brian goes door to door trying to get people to sign a petition to overturn the SSM ban. Quagmire laughs it off because homosexuals don't procreate, Herbert the Tired Gag That Only Needed To Be Used One Time hypocritically calls Brian a pervert, and then we get a one-off character, Bottomtooth, who won't sign due to religious reasons. Let me guess, he goes into his house when Brian leaves and slurs "Amazing Grace" while playing the piano?


Oh. Of course. Shoulda known.

Meanwhile, the Wrong Crowd learns about Brian's petition and try to get Chris to destroy it (in exchange for touching Melissa's breasts). Oh, adult animation: sex and drugs, drugs and sex. Why anything different? Of course, Chris is clueless is outright told to do so.

Lois goes...


REALLY MACFARLANE? YOU'RE STILL GOING AFTER CHRISTIANITY?
What did we DO to you?
Did a minister pop your balloon when you were four years old and you held a grudge ever since?
Were you forced to watch that ludicrous Rock: It's Your Decision! movie until you dumped your Michael Jackson albums?
It hasn't even been two minutes!

She goes to a minister, who shows her a film allegedly made by God, though it's clearly credited to Pat Robertson. It's all about making LGBT people out to be fans of Madonna and alien bugs with acid for blood. Geez, thirteen minutes in and I already want to do something to mock the piss out of you!

Maybe I should. =)

Also, the minister wants to watch My Giant next, causing Lois to violently object. Methinks that if this episode were made after A Million Ways To Die in the West and the minister wanted to show that next, Lois would be jumping wildly begging him to start the film up.

Brian eventually gets 9,999 signatures from the town's gay district and tries to get a conflicted Lois to be number 10,000. When she opens up about being on a fence in regard to the whole situation, Brian takes offense that she's not supportive and starts an argument with her. Lois decides to move to her parents' for until the whole thing blows over, and wants to take Stewie. Screw you, Lois! You should be ashamed for not taking Brian's side without a thought, because, dammit, "Love Wins".

Stewie doesn't want to miss the wedding due to an extremely elaborate situation that he only saw on TV. The cutaway just shows him on a couch, wishing to be present at what he was watching. I'd say something, but given the lack of movement typical of a MacFarlane cartoon, I won't.

After Chris torches the petition, Brian spends twenty-four hours trying to get a new one from the gay district. Even going as far as to watch Sex and the City with a gay couple. Because stereotypes (also a possible jab at Sarah Jessica Parker, whom MacFarlane dislikes for some reason).

Buckle up. It's time for a nosedive.

After West dumps the petition out the window, Brian steals a security guard's gun and holds him hostage. It attracts barricades and police, naturally. But, it's okay! As long as the Tumor gets everything he wants, and he will, he can be a terrorist.

If it's for the advancement of gay rights, acts of terrorism are A-OK!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Nazis you like to portray anyone right-of-center as do this kind of stuff to get their way?

Meanwhile, Lois and Stewie go to the Pewterschmidt estate, where the latter complains about the random crap in a candy dish. The news, identifying Brian as a "homosexual gunman", shows the hostage situation (also, Stewie finds a key to Volkswagon Scirocco, which he somehow knows about). Then it hits her: Lois' parents conditioned her to believe that marriage was only between heterosexuals and love had no part in it. This prompts an Elizabeth Smart cutaway.

Haha! It's funny because an underage girl got sexually abused. -_-

With the situation at the city hall going south, Peter takes it upon himself to calm Brian down. He brags to his friend Joe about being the Tauntaun that Han Solo stuffed Luke inside to save him from freezing during The Empire Strikes Back. Didn't the Tauntaun die in that scene?

Peter goes into West's office and talks to Brian with catchphrases, a laughtrack, and Italian accents. The point is...?

Lois, shows up and tells Brian that he's hurting his cause with this stunt. Too late, no sympathy from me.

The whole scene was so tender, that West is convinced to destroy the bill.

Wait a second, Jasper gets to marry Ricardo after all?
I've been very careful as not to spoil that over the course of this recap.

Shall I recommend going to Hallab Bakery for the cake? I'm sure they wouldn't mind!

Oh, the Tumor doesn't get a wedding dress? I am so disappoint! (Not really)
Well, he does look more like an actual tumor now. But then again, he wore a
wedding dress in the alternate ending... more on that in a minute.

By the way, West agrees to play the chaplain because Stewie gave him those keys to that Volkswagen.

Hahaha, BLOW ME.

But if I were to make a recommendation for your honeymoon, might I recommend Mecca? I'm positive the LGBT community would celebrate the outcome of the trip**.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Was this supposed to help the gay rights movement? Because I can't tell whether this or I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry did more to hurt it. I have often joked that MacFarlane is desperately trying to out-Sandler Adam Sandler, so there's that.

So who do I root for?

I can't sympathize with Brian. The writers designate him to be a hero, but not only is this marred by his reputation as a walking MacFarlane tract, the fact that he has to resort to terrorism to get his way diminishes anyone siding with him in this case.

He also gets off scot-free after doing this because West was so moved by his commitment to his cousin. Yeah. I bet the US Government was so impressed by the Japanese Empire's attack on Pearl Harbor that they ceded Hawaii to them.

I'm also pretty sure America was sympathetic to the Orlando nightclub shooter, too.

You don't point a gun at a public official and expect to get a pinky-slap on the wrist. This cartoon shows what may happen if fictional situations occurred in real life, like Scrooge McDuck's swimming pool of gold. All things considered, Brian should have gone to prison for his stunt. But NOPE! He's where the creator stands on the subject, so he's immune to karma!

Also, when Lois reveals that she's stuck on a fence, Brian gets upset that she's not siding with him right out of the gate... for planning a wedding at his owners' home without asking first.

I can't sympathize with the Tumor. I don't call Jasper "the Tumor" because of all the pink he wears. His whole act is a great simulation.

I'm not even alone in this mindset. Tons of people hate this dog's guts because of how annoying he is and consider him the gay equivalent of Scrappy-Doo.

By the way, did you know that MacFarlane wanted the Tumor to appeal to LGBT audiences? It's like trying to create a black character for a show and having him wear his pants down to his ankles all the time, gold chains and teeth, and an unhealthy obsession with watermelon!

You can't go with one's preferences and make that be the character. It's no different than, say, making a show about established superheroes, neglect the teams personalities, and just let their powers be the focus. This is why people who've only seen Superfriends think Aquaman's a lame character.

Some people can make gay characters that won't turn off straight audiences (Naoko Takeuchi being a prime example), but MacFarlane can only portray them in two modes: 1) offensive stereotype or 2) George Takei.

Hey, Sulu! Care to tell us about the Comfort Women one day?

Ignoring the fact that it's a human-animal relationship (something lost on Bob Sassone) whole act gets worse when you look at the alternate ending, where MacFarlane DOES go for the LCD and gives the Tumor a wedding dress:


Yep. Ricardo (who can't speak English) was oblivious to the fact the Tumor wanted to marry him and, thus, is an unwilling participant. This could only end in divorce.

So, because of this, I do at least have one character to sympathize with... for the reasons the writers didn't intend.

I can't sympathize with Peter. He's barely there. Same with Meg and Stewie, the latter of whom does little more than lob insults at the Tumor that backfire.

I can't sympathize with Chris. The only reason he joined the Wrong Crowd was because he wanted to grope the bad guy. He was oblivious to the mustache-twirling objectives the writers laid out for them. He was just a dumb kid, no hate or sympathy for him either way.

Lois comes close. She's conflicted about the whole situation, but can't get any definitive help. Brian's bitchiness towards her initial reluctance does draw some sympathy for her. But ultimately, she doesn't even call the dog out on his terrorism aside from telling him to let West go because he's hurting his own efforts.

If there's anyone I sympathize with especially after sitting through this episode (and most other works of MacFarlane and his ilk), it's the people we're told are the villains.

The Right-of-Center and Christians in general are treated as monsters or idiots. Melissa was portrayed a manipulative bitch preying on Chris' stupidity to meet her goal. Just a mustache-twirler. When West lifted the ban, I half-expected her to shrilly shriek, change into a bat, and fly away.

Both parties tend to get the short end of a very long stick, which I often encourage them to start their own media and not wait for the day Hollywood gives it to them (which will never come). Not news commentary, entertainment.

In the wake of June 2015, there was much hullabaloo at the legalization of SSM in the US (at least from celebrities, most other gave a resounding "Meh!"). Meanwhile, in the Middle East, ISIS was driving my people from what had been their homes for centuries and were throwing people accused of being gay off of buildings.

Nobody said a word about that fact, they merely continued to celebrate while death was poured out upon the region. Save for me.

Nowadays, the LGBT community has become so popular to depict, that they've arguably become overrepresented. I tend to let them be (provided they don't pull an Ernst Rohm like the activists did with Sweet Cakes and Memories Pizza), so I would leave others to depict them. After all, there's other groups that don't really get positive coverage.

Maybe I should get on that! =)

So was there any silver lining? Well, Adam West was amusing to watch at least.

I'm DLAbaoaqu. I wonder if anyone will read this?



*MacFarlane probably assumes he's the pinnacle of Christian thought solely because you recognize him from Growing Pains.
**I'm not being sarcarstic. Gay people REALLY hate this character.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

CARTOON REVIEW: Family Guy, "Meet the Quagmires"

A cartoon so far over the hill that it's in lunar orbit... around Mimas!

I remember ages ago when I uploaded that anti-Family Guy video during an era where it still had Sacred Cow status. Oh the fanboys that came crying; all insulting me for every reason you can fathom: political reasons, religious reasons, reasons involving taste, etc. I've heard it all. Back in those days, anyone who criticized this zombie was seen as a heretic who needed a ticket to the guillotine; I remember all the videos that FG-lovers brought below four stars back in the day. They just loved their "Cool Whip/Hwip" jokes! It was basically the Twilight of Western animation in terms of the fanbase. Every single one of them was a borderline NuttyMadam3575 or Eric Douglace.

Fortunately, its grip on the minds of college kids finally started to weaken sometime between 2009 and 2011. Chris "RowdyC" Moore and TheMysteriousMrEnter have both laid smackdowns on this show in the past and have met little of the flak (at least to my knowledge) that those who came before them suffered. For old time's sake, I'm going to take a look at an FG episode of my choosing and dice it as I had done with that have-more-than-two-kids and you destroy the world episode of Captain Planet. If that one remnant of the FG shows up... well... EAT LEAD!

Anyone who's familiar with this show knows that creator/star Seth MacFarlane always throws in references to the 1980's. Granted, I reference Mobile Suit Gundam a lot -- but the rule is that it's always done in conjunction with a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog. I don't rely on it all the time, if you notice. On Family Guy, however, it's something you expect. I'd say it's like the "FREE" space on a Bingo card, but that role is reserved for cutaway gags! But here's the most notorious example of this habit: the Season 5 finale, Meet the Quagmires.

Consider this a valedictorian spanking.


SUMMARY


So Peter Griffin and his buddies are at their favorite hang-out, the Drunken Clam. The butt-chinned guy in the gang, Glen Quagmire, is going on about his latest exploits as a womanizing sex-fiend. Peter is upset because he can't do that kind of stuff anymore because he has a family to support. After a pointless cutaway, the TV messes up. The bartender tries to fix it, but falls off a ladder and Death shows up. When the barkeep's discovered to have just been knocked out, another cutaway joke is made about Death not wanting to be away from Mike Wallace.

Get it? Because he's OLD! Hahahaha! Eh...

Peter begs Death take him to back to when he was eighteen. Ol' Grimmy refuses, but when ESPN is just about to show a womens' pro sports thing, he changes his mind. I don't get it.

Oh, and Brian is brought along as well. Why? I guess the writers were treating him as a Siamese twin.

The trio winds up in 1984 and here, the fun begins. Everyone sees the nasally blob as an eighteen-year-old towel boy who works at a country club. He makes plans with a much younger Cleveland Brown, who in a few decades would get a terrible spin-off of his own before it was killed by the FOX curse. Peter references Hellraiser, a movie that wouldn't come out for three more years; I guess it was done as a joke, but given the historical context I'm left scratching my head.

'84 Lois shows up and asks Peter if they're still on for Zapped!... a movie that was already two years old at that point. I'm beginning to think that these references were being tossed in for the sake of establishing that they're in the Eighties. Predictably, Peter turns her down. Brian's reaction to all this: "I would eat your poo." Now, in some other versions, America's least favorite dog tells '84 Lois "Can I Wham my Oingo Boingo into your Velvet Underground?" because, well, we didn't want you to think it was the Forties!

Of course Peter's so stupid to remember who the American President was during that period for the sole purpose of a Back to the Future reference. They go to a bar where Peter plays a PMS edition of Ms. Pac-Man and Brian hits on a lady by asking her if she saw Ghostbusters and her boyfriend with an upturned collar shows up (Which decade are they visiting again? I forgot.). Brian challenges the guy to a fight at the World Trade Center on 9/11, to which he accepts.

That little bit makes me want to bring up that MacFarlane had booked a flight on one of the planes Al Qaeda hijacked that morning and missed it because he got drunk the night before. He promised never to do a joke about that subject and proceeded to break it several times. Classy.

Peter makes out with Molly Ringwald. Brian just so happens to bring up that she's the biggest star in the world right now and asks what she's doing at the bar. If you don't why know by now, you're an idiot.

Death decides that they made enough 80's references for the time being and takes Peter and Brian back to 2006. We get a joke about fat women and Peter goes to bed. The next morning, we learn that he's married to Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson stays with them sometimes. It turns out that by not going out with Lois, Fatso altered the timeline and we get a joke about Tom Cruise running from "gay thoughts".

Am I the only one who finds it funny that a pro-gay activist
like MacFarlane likes to think in terms of stereotypes?

Only eight friggin' minutes in... need something to revive... will to live... AHA! HERE WE GO!

Whew... thank you, Vegeta. You have restored my mirth. Let's go on.

We go into a Back to the Future, Part II  (1989!) reference explaining that Peter changed the flow of history by going back in time. As a result he's married to Molly Ringwald, Quagmire ended up with Lois, Chevy Chase hosts The Tonight Show...

Butt Chins! (Woo-hoo!)

...and Peter's kids are belong to Quagmire (geez, I feel dirty saying that).

Because this is a cartoon on FOX, of course we need to have embittered left-wing propaganda about how Al Gore would have killed Osama bin Laden (hiding out in the audience of MADtv) with his bare hands had he been elected in 2000. Nah, from what I understand, he'd be running around trying to warn the world about that danger with universal scientific consensus: ManBearPig!

He is cereal business!

Also, because George W. Bush was never elected we have flying cars that run on vegetable oil. Cue a Jetsons cutaway where George gets into a fight with Jane over her snatching his wallet. For some reason, they are not drawn in the Family Guy/American Dad/Cleveland Show "fart cloud" style.

The only was back to the past is through Death. However, after bashing people over the head with subtly advertizing universal healthcare and gun control, Brian says that averting the marriage with Lois is the best thing to ever happen to the world. Y'know, it's as if they're trying to tell us something.

Death! YES! Take them out! Get this show off the air! It died a year ago!

Death shows up when Jane Jetson randomly falls and plops right next to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Apparently, Death had his hands full that day because Dick Cheney killed Antonin Scalia, Tucker Carlson, and Karl Rove with one bullet. Upon hearing this, Brian (the moonbat that he is) begs Peter to stay in the new reality, however Peter's never heard of any of them and decides to try to set things right.

More Eighties crap! Yay.

When '84 Lois asks to go see Zapped!, Peter says no and suggests to see Krull... which was in 1983. Geez, I know it was the middle of the decade, but wasn't home video a thing yet?

He tries again and fails by cutting muffins.

He speaks to '84 Lois again and they make it a date. Then, '84 Cleveland shows up and talks Peter into having a night on the town with him. So they go out to night club and dance to "Axel F".

Are we sure this isn't his personal porn?

Gee, um, which decade is this? Er, the 1720's? No, too festive. The 1850's? That's not right.
This would be so much easier to pinpoint if they reminded us every three seconds instead of ten!

Of course, Death has declared that enough is enough and will not give Fatso another do-over and we get a cutaway gag involving Joe Piscapo and weights. I didn't get it.

'84 Lois doesn't want to date Peter anymore and has decided to go to the country club dance with '84 Quagmire. This gives Peter an idea... to go back to the night club in the previous picture. Same song, same patrons. The joke abruptly ends and they go to the dance.

They sneak in through the air ducts. "Now I know what a TV Dinner feels like," says Peter. Doesn't get the quote and is told that it comes from Die Hard, a movie that hasn't been made at that point. Peter jokes they could make it. Slightly amusing.

Peter's girth makes the duct give way and they land on the guitarist in the band hired for the party. Brian has to take over the guitar for "Earth Angel" and... 

Holy Gigawatts! I had an epiphany: this whole scene is a crappy homage to Back to the Future! It all makes sense! Taking over an out-of-commission guitarist's spot to play "Earth Angel", trying to get a couple back together, a photograph with vanishing relatives, a kiss that's prevented with a punch -- it's friggin' Back to the Future! I know most of its events took place in 1955, but the movie itself came out in... *groan* he did it again... 

What's next? Mr. Soapbox gets onstage and sings "Never Gonna Give You Up"?

Why am I not surprised?

Yes, this is another Back to the Future reference. They just replaced "Johnny B. Goode" with a song only remembered these days because of misleading links that go to its music video. What was by-and-large MacFarlane's fetish fic-turned-episode has become a borderline orgy with everything usable that the writers had left.


What's that? You kiddies don't remember what Y2K was?
Remember the 2012 Mayan Calendar hysteria? Pretty much in the same vein.

But back on track.

One more BttF reference with a guy called Marvin, now Rick Astley's cousin, calling about the new song they were looking for.

Almost finished... almost finished...

So Peter goes back to his non-aging relatives now that the timeline is restored... except that Roger the Alien from American Dad now lives with the Griffins:


Methinks this is because they didn't see Zapped!.

The only way they could make this episode cater more to MacFarlane's jollies is if they remixed the theme for the end cred -- they remixed it, didn't they?


VERDICT

Y'know, I brought up Back to the Future a couple of times because of this episode's homages to it. But here's the line of demarcation between that movie and Meet the Quagmires: while BttF was mostly in the 1950's, you weren't reminded every single moment which time period Marty went to. Sure, you heard "Earth Angel" and "Mr. Sandman" play, saw a theater showing a Ronald Reagan movie, and watched Marty's grandparents use their first TV to watch The Honeymooners, but it was spread out and didn't overtake the plot. You had Doc and Marty trying to figure out a way to get the DeLorean back to 1985, while trying to get Marty's parents back together. With Peter and Brian's odyssey into the past, on the other hand, you're assaulted with one reference after another and it never lets up!

Seriously, at one point '84 Cleveland plays an Eddie Murphy tape for no reason whatsoever!

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the Eighties. I wasn't around long enough to remember any of it, but good things came of that era: it had some excellent movies, animation got better near the tail end of the decade, video games evolved quite rapidly, most of the music I wouldn't mind listening to on the way to the beach, but the clothes were ludicrous. 

Brian was just there. Apart from his usual role as a far-left bullhorn, he was basically a Mr. Explainy Pants who would eventually be the Marty to Fatso's George in the climax. Knowing the road he's been on in recent years, I'm surprised he didn't call the Kremlin and say "Yeah, Gorby, that Strategic Defense Initiative thing? DON'T FALL FOR IT!"

Fortunately, there was none of that fan-hated (and hater-hated) Meg abuse this time around.

Nothing much to say about the music in these types of cartoons, considering how they're pretty much just cues. The rest is all third-party material.

That's all I have to say about this episode. I expect, perhaps, one kamikaze fanboy will come in to defend this zombie's honor, but I don't care. I've done my part. I will leave further devastation of FG to others.



I'm DLAbaoaqu and here's a message to Seth MacFarlane, courtesy of the Satellite of Love:

video
Imagine them saying "Seth" instead of "Mike".

Family Guy (1999 - present), Fuzzy Door Productions
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988 - 1999), Best Brains



Sunday, March 15, 2015

LIVE-ACTION TV REVIEW: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures



I wasn't aware of the cartoon series at first, but along with that information I discovered that a live-action TV series. Turns out that it died from the two-hit combo of the FOX curse and utter awfulness. How bad was it? Well, let's just say that Alex Winter went on The Arsenio Hall Show before Bogus Journey hit theaters to advise people not to see it.

For the people who skipped the link, I'll spell it out clearly: the men who made the live-action Bill and Ted show did not use Winter, Keanu Reeves, or even George Carlin to play their roles. In fact, they didn't even want any input from the trio. After a year of production hell, the show hit the airwaves.

"But wait," you say, "if Winter, Reeves, and Carlin didn't come back, who played Bill, Ted, and Rufus?" Well, back in my review of the cartoon series, I stated that the show was moved from CBS to FOX. When FOX announced a Bill and Ted live-action series, Chris Kennedy and Evan Richards (who voiced the Stallyns in the cartoon's second season) reprised their roles with Rick Overton as Rufus.

Upon first seeing stills from the show on the Bill and Ted website many years back, I was instantly reminded of Weird Science, which I had said good things about in an earlier entry. How (mostly) wrong I was!

The staff of the live-action series clearly didn't get Bill and Ted as a whole, thinking they were just idiots and nothing more; I've dealt a bit with what makes them tick back in the EA review, so I won't go in depth now. Furthermore, the staff wasn't used to writing episodic comedy. "It's difficult to do a series where the lead characters don't grow or have an evolving arc," said Campbell. "Bill and Ted stay Bill and Ted, so the challenge in creating scripts was to come up with stories that were wrapped around incidents they bump into in their everyday lives. The idea was that Bill and Ted are basically fish out of water, dealing with things that don't make sense to them."

Sentiments like this trickled down to the actors. Because the writing staff didn't give a hoot, neither did Richards and Kennedy. Richards, the FOX version of Bill, said that while Bill and Ted were just naive, the scripts made it seem like they were much stupider than they let on; he had similar sentiments about his work on the cartoon.



The characters you'd expect return: the Stallyns, Missy, Mr. Preston, Captain Logan, and Rufus. A new character, Mr. Kielson (Danny Breen), was added. Kielson was Bill and Ted's boss at Nail World, a hardware store. When I learned about him, I half-expected him to be kind of a Chett figure who would be the butt of all the time travel stuff. This was another expectation that flopped.


Since the show didn't last that long, thanks to a combination of bad reception and the FOX curse, I will go over each episode as I had done with the Napoleon Dynamite cartoon


0. Pilot

Here's a riddle: what is red, convenient, helps people know where to look for
a source of income, and managers are too scared to use today?

The intro begins with Rufus preaching the good word of the Wyld Stallyns at the "Church of Bill and Ted" (yeah, it would seem the fandom evolved into a religion by the 2600's). This unaired story is about when Bill and Ted destroyed a $500 amplifier with their bad guitar playing. Mr. Preston refuses to buy a replacement and the duo apply for a job at Nail World. Mr. Kielson refuses to hire both of them, unless one of them goes out with his daughter. They wind up insulting her in front of Kielson's face and get kicked out of the store. Okay, time for a time-out.

The issue here is that Bill and Ted never acted like this. Sure, they called the kids in Latin class "dweebs" in the cartoon, but it had the same amount of intentional offense that "babe" had. They never directly insulted people unless they did something heinous (the knight that was thought to have killed Ted, the evil robotic copies, and the devil are examples of this). What a person looked like, in the eyes of the Wyld Stallyns, was only superficial; character was more important.

The dudes attempt to salvage their interview, but a Frisbee breaks the antennae on the booth. Bill and Ted mend it with a comic book Mr. Kielson was reading, but this takes them into that comic's story where they wind up saving a girl from a gangster and carry her to San Dimas. They correct where they screwed up in the interview (no mention of their past selves) and discover that the girl they saved, Roxanne, came from Kielson's comic... and they're now involved in the story. If she doesn't go back, her boyfriend Johnny will die. To compound matters, Roxanne has run off in a taxi.

What happens next? Who knows. The pilot ends on a "To be continued" title, but the second part was never seen as far as anybody knows. Obviously, the duo would land jobs, but nothing of Roxanne's fate is known.

1. Nail the Conquering Hero



The intro has been redone completely. No more Church of Bill and Ted. We hear the theme song a bit more clearly it sounds like "Break Away" by Big Pig (from the EA soundtrack) fused with a little bit of "Jingle Bells".

Bill and Ted have been abusing the phone booth for a nine-hour video game binge. They arrive at Nail World and slap an "Out of Order" sign on the booth. The general manager of Nail World is coming and Mr. Kielson is frantic about the situation. The Stallyns take a bunch of cans of water sealant and build a castle out of them. Kielson panics, but the manager loves the thought put into it. Kielson promptly states that it's his idea. Kielson uses the phone booth (the "Out of Order" sign has vanished for reasons of poor continuity) and winds up becoming the ruler of Camelot.

Will the Stallyns be able to recover Kielson and restore King Arthur to his throne?


"You will take me to Jabba now."

Also, since when was Rufus Force-sensitive? He actually uses a Jedi Mind Trick on a Nail World customer!

2. As the Dude Turns


Missy is an avid viewer of the soap opera The Lives That We Live. When the male lead, Lance, announces plans for sex-reassignment surgery, she is left in such a monstrous depression that she will no longer cook. The side effect of this is that Mr. Preston is now using the garage, where the Stallyns "practice", to renovate vintage cars. The only chance they have is to enter the TV and convince the main character to keep his gender. Will they become the most hated men among SJWs or will they be left without a garage to practice in?

Easily the best episode of the show. It makes fun of all the soap opera conventions you can think of: the underhanded love triangles, secret relatives, cheesy dramatic dialogue, organs, etc. If only the future episodes were handled like this, but alas, it's mostly downhill from this point.

3. It's A Totally Wonderful Life


Ugh! This one!

Rufus travels back in time to see the Wyld Stallyns after a series of nightmares involving the dudes in lederhosen. He mistakenly gets "Chicken Kiev" engraved on a plaque to be awarded to Captain Logan... and he hates Chicken Kiev! This makes Bill and Ted break up, killing the band. Bill becomes a greedy corporate cutthroat and Ted becomes a loose cannon cop who doesn't play by the rules. Will Rufus be able to patch up the Stallyns' friendship?

Out of all the episodes this show had, this episode garners the most hate from the fanbase. The idea of Bill and Ted hating each other (especially over something as silly as a mislabeled plaque) is as alien as a xenomorph to anyone familiar with the characters.

4. Hunka Hunka Bill and Ted



Bill and Ted's entry into an Elvis Presley look-a-like contest falls flat on its face. They go back in time and run into the real King, who is having trouble finding his big break. They get the idea to take Elvis back to San Dimas and enter him in the contest... and he doesn't win! Elvis, feeling defeated, tries to give up on music. It's up to the Stallyns to make sure that rock exists.

An improvement over the last episode. The dance at the bowling alley was surprisingly well done.


5. Destiny Babes




All the kids at San Dimas High seem to have a significant other... except for Bill and Ted. 

Yeah, for some reason, Joanna and Elizabeth are nowhere to be seen! Even though they only got into one episode of the cartoon, at least they were acknowledged! If this were a reboot and retold the story of the Wyld Stallyns getting the time machine at the beginning, I'd probably let it slide.

They enlist the help of Giacomo Casanova to land girls, but didn't realize that the greatest lover in history hit on women who were taken.



6. Deja Vu


Bill and Ted are too late for the school's Battle of the Bands competition... but Ted's mother gets into a catfight with their music teacher (it's a really annoying scene). 

You read that right, Ted's mother is present in this show. She was never seen in EA and it was confirmed that Captain Logan was single in BJ. Ted DID have a Mom in the early drafts, who had gland problems (fat glands).

The teacher, Ms. Pearl, is a hippie and an old flame of Logan's. The Stallyns travel back to 1969 and meet up with younger versions of Ted's father and Pearl. They attempt to go to Woodstock and get arrested. Will they be able to improve Pearl's outlook on the world? Or will she be a bitter old shrew forever?

The writers try to bring in elements from the movies: Bill and Ted "philosophizing" by reciting song lyrics (in this case "Signs" by Five Man Electric Band) and flipping the "Shut up, Ted" gag on its ear when Bill ogles Ted's mother in the past; the wooden acting, though hampers that skit.


7. Stand Up Guy


The Stallyns humiliate themselves during Math class. After being called "Einstein" in a disparaging manner, they think he's a guy in the classroom. After talking to the smartest kid at the school about who the man is, the dudes go back to 1916 to find Einstein forlorn with doubt about his abilities. Soon, he wants to give up on physics and do stand-up comedy!

Not one of the best episodes, but not one of the worst either.


VERDICT

I really wanted to give this show a stellar write-up, but the stuff it had going for it was offset by numerous missteps. Kennedy and Richards, like in the cartoon, gave it their best shot, but their hearts clearly weren't in it. Richards had studied the movies ahead of time and came to enjoy the Wyld Stallyns, but his efforts could not counteract the creative team's disdain for Bill and Ted. The writing staff was more into Teen Dramas and tried to impose many of those elements onto the Stallynverse.

While the live-action series will live in infamy, it had its moments. Perhaps if it were given to someone who understood the Wyld Stallyns a bit better, it could have lasted longer. Perhaps, if Matheson, Solomon, Reeves, or Winter had a say about what was going into the project, it could have done better. If it were its own thing, independent of the Stallynverse, it could have done better.

BENEDICTION

Before I bid the Stallynverse adieu, I must say that there were other mediums that Bill and Ted were seen in, like an annual Halloween show at Universal Studios and -- believe it or else -- a musical (No, I'm not going to cover them. What do you think I am, obsessed?). Most recently, the duo started making a comeback in comic series from BOOM! Studios

Oh, one more thing...


...Bill and Ted 3. Will it happen?


If it were made, I'd definitely see it. These are such great characters!
Even if the first half was just them revisiting sites from EA and BJ to reflect on what all had changed, a la Rocky Balboa, I'd go see it.

Everyone should give these two wannabe rockers who changed the course of history a watch.
They went to the past, they went to the future, they went all around the afterlife.
Bill and Ted are a duo that cannot be forgotten or replaced.


I'm DLAbaoaqu. Catch ya later, Bill and Ted!



*Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures (Live-action) is owned by FOX.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991)

Hey! I didn't need to add the tagline!


With the unprecedented commercial success of Excellent Adventure, a sequel was a most certain result.

SUMMARY

As we've established, Bill and Ted's music prevented the end of the world and ushered in the ongoing age of peace and prosperity that Barack Obama failed to achieve. Unfortunately, 0.00047% of 27th century Earth isn't happy with paradise; one Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) wants to set himself up as dictator by sending two robotic duplicates of the Wyld Stallyns (henceforth dubbed the Evil Robot Stallyns, or ERS) back in time to kill the real ones.

In 1991, Bill, Ted, Joanna, and Elizabeth are trying to enter the local Battle of the Bands... but while the princesses improved their music skills since the end of EA, Bill and Ted suck just as much as before. Miss Woodrow (Pam Grier), who is in charge of the BotB, ultimately relents and gives the Stallyns the very last slot.

A lot has happened since the History Report To End All History Reports: Bill and Ted have moved out and share an apartment and Missy-Mom has divorced Mr. Preston and married Captain Logan (her ex did not take it well).

"I can't believe Missy divorced your Dad... and married mine."

We meet the infamous Colonel Oats (Chelcie Ross), who only got mentioned briefly in EA. The Stallyns clearly fear him.

After the party, Bill and Ted pop the question to their respective lovers (ten feet away from each couple, in fact). All is not well, though: the ERS land in San Dimas to hunt down their carbon-based counterparts.

They trick Bill and Ted with a prank phone call using pitch-perfect imitations of Joanna and Elizabeth to make the boys think the princesses are angry with them. This depresses the boys to the extent that they start watching the original Star Trek. The ERS show up and the boys think it's future versions of them and claim to want to help the duo.

The ERS drives the Stallyns out to Vasquez Rocks, reveal that it was all a trick, and kill them! They hijack a Porsche and run off to assume the Stallyns' roles.

"It's the Grim Reaper, dude."
"Oh. How's it hangin' Death?"

The now-deceased dudes have become ghosts and quickly run into Death (William Sadler). If they can beat him at a game, the two can get their lives restored; but nobody has ever beaten him. Instead of playing him, the dudes give Death a wedgie, and get away.

They find out that the ERS is screwing up their lives and are plotting to kill Joanna and Elizabeth, giving them the objective to warn their loved ones in ways ranging from possessing Captain Logan (and another officer) in order to relay the info to the police and taking part in the only successful seance ever... well, apart from the one at Endor.

The dudes' meddling in the seance, however, sends them to Hell. I would go into a lecture about how Hell is shame and not the "fire-and-torture" interpretation you see all the time (like in this movie), but I will let it slide for the sake of the comedy.

"Get down and give me infinity!"

Bill and Ted get Satan's attention (he's voice by Frank Welker!), but he sends them into a prison-like area with numerous doors. The first door leads to a German Expressionist version of a military barracks where Colonel Oats forces the Stallyns to do infinity push-ups. They get away from him, but figure that if they split up, they won't get slapped with stuff that heinously harsh. They were wrong: Bill comes face-to-face with his ancient grandmother (who wants a kiss) and Ted runs into the thing he fears the most: the Easter Bunny!

"You stole Deacon's Easter basket!"

The Stallyns are cornered by the three fears at the intersection of three hallways. The only way out? Challenge Death.

"Best of seven?"

The boys spoof The Seventh Seal by playing "Battleship" with Death... and WIN (he hid his last ship in the J's)! However, Death is revealed to be a sore lose and they have to beat him at "Clue", "NFL Super Bowl Electronic Football", and "Twister" before he finally relents. Personally, I would have grabbed Holy Water, a Triple Shot, and kept spamming him as soon as he appeared.

Either way, Death lost to the right people. He could have gotten off much worse.

The boys win the right to go back to the world of the living, but surmise that the only chance they have against the ERS is with good robot duplicates. They go to Heaven, where we learn that the meaning of life is the chorus to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison. God directs the Stallyns to the Martian scientist Station (who can split into two smaller versions of himself and rejoin at will) who agrees to help the Stallyns build the Good Robot Stallyns (GRS).

TRIVIA: During the scene where the ERS capture the princesses, you may notice piles of what appear to be their clothes on the floor. In a deleted scene, Evil Robot Ted reveals himself to be Evil Robot Bill and vice versa, causing the princesses to faint. This was changed to them showing off their metallic innards, but the remains of the deleted scene remain,

Back in the world of the living, the Wyld Stallyns and company head back to civilization to construct the GRS. Meanwhile, the ERS have captured the princesses and are holding them hostage at the Battle of the Bands with the full intention of killing them.

The Stallyns get to the Battle of the Bands in the nick of time and easily defeat the ERS with the GRS. The victory is cut short when DeNomolos arrives, apparently having anticipated the robots' failure, and tries to kill the Stallyns. He even goes as far as to hijack every TV station on Earth to broadcast their deaths. What follows is the same act that occurred at the police station in EA, but slightly more dire (DeNomolos can play the "Time Game" as well). Fortunately, the Stallyns triumph and Death pulls off a little trick he'd learned from Bill and Ted on the villain.

Miss Woodrow, who gave the Stallyns their spot in the BotB, was Rufus all along; who else would agree to letting the Stallyns play? With DeNomolos and the ERS defeated nothing can interrupt the BotB anymore... but Bill and Ted still can't play... so they use the phone booth to get time to practice, marry, and have babies.

Some consider that a plot hole, because of the "San Dimas Time" rule: for the amount of time-travelling you do, you go that far into your own future. If you think about it, nothing said they weren't going to compensate for it, they just came back for the concert. Wouldn't want to leave hundreds of people standing around with their mouths agape!

With Station and Death part of the band now, Bill and Ted end the concert with an epic rendition of "God Gave Rock n' Roll To You", broadcast to the world! DeNomolos' plans to destroy them went horribly wrong and he wound up helping Bill and Ted.

Isn't hindsight funny, Chuck?

We end on a bunch of phony newspaper and magazine articles. You can read what they were really about, but it's not as blatantly obvious as the Glen or Glenda? headline.

Sorry you didn't win the BotB, Primus, but at least you'll do the theme to South Park in several years! You'll be a lot better off than the pain Captain Logan's gonna go through when Missy leaves him! XD

VERDICT


Occasionally, I see this movie shoved into "Worst Sequels Ever" lists: a most objectionable move. BJ may not be as good as EA for me, but I still enjoyed it. In fact, I saw it before EA! Fortunately, Solomon and Matheson had the foresight to toss in references to EA here and there so I was able to assume (correctly) that BJ was a sequel.

The music, like last time, is great. "God Gave Rock n' Roll To You" has since become a signature karaoke song for me, but there were other tracks that were just as awesome: "Battlestations" by Winger (played as Station built the GRS) was most triumphant and "Dream of a New Day" by Richie Kotzen is an often-overlooked one that I liked (it plays when the Stallyns and Co. arrive at the hardware store); YouTube the song, it's good! On that note, you might notice that the Stallyns' background songs are a lot like the EA soundtrack, while the ERS uses Black and Death Metal.

Speaking of the ERS, they're pretty fun villains. Being robot copies of Bill and Ted, they have all their mannerisms, but are a bit smarter and quite evil (they purposely try to run over a cat at one point). They easily get on their DeNomolos' nerves.

Speaking of DeNomolos, despite his real name being Chuck, he hands out revisionist history books that say that his name is "Nomolos DeNomolos". I saw one explanation saying that "Nomolos" is an alias.

Of all the characters in this movie, my favorite is easily Death. It's so funny to see him act like a five-year-old kid when he loses at board games and his antics after joining up with Bill and Ted. Keep an eye out for him telling a smoking man "See ya real soon!". 

Yet there are a few things that, when you research the making of this movie, you wish made it into the final film. An amusing scene between the duo and a demon in Hell got cut out, but made its way into the trailer (and one line into the credits song):

"We totally knew a guy who got one of those in his bucket of chicken."

The second fight with the ERS was supposed to be much more elaborate, with Death singing on stage while the ERS kill Bill and Ted again. Death revives them because of them beating him a buttload of times.


But the one scene I look back on and just wish it could have been in the final print is where the ERS use three canisters that summon the Wyld Stallyns' greatest fears... on steroids! Col. Oats is packing heat, the Easter Bunny is the size of a Wookiee, and Granny Preston has this beefed-up wheelchair. They are only defeated when Bill mans up and gives his grandma a kiss, Ted calls Deacon about the Easter basket (a subject that he doesn't care about), and they show kindness to Oats. Interestingly, a tiny portion of the beginning survived on the televised version of the film: where Death tries out bubble gum.

But that's just me. Other than those bits that didn't make it, it's still pretty good. The attitude of EA was preserved like a holy relic.

Bottom line: a worthy sequel to a great movie.

I would say that this is it for our Wyld Stallyns Marathon... but there's one more thing we're going to look at: the biggest disaster with the Bill and Ted name attached to it. We'll tackle it next time.


I'm DLAbaoaqu. Party on, dudes!


Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) was owned by Orion before it went under.