Shmee Visits The Good Place!

Do you like The Office or maybe Parks and Recreation?  What if I told you the same guy that wrote and produced those shows, Michael Schur, made another show about ‘heaven’, The Good Place.  While it is theologically unsound, it is very funny, and since it has been out for a year you can blitz through the first season right now on Netflix.

The Good Place is about Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who ends up in the titular Good Place by accident.  She of course doesn’t want to admit she is in the wrong place then be sent to eternal damnation, so she has to do her best to fit in, but her innate selfishness keeps getting her in trouble.

The Good Place is unlike any major religion’s idea of paradise.  Pretty much if you are good, like really good, you end up in a little neighborhood with a soulmate, and you can do whatever you want.  Things are fine for most of Eleanor’s neighbors, but she keeps doing things that screw her neighborhood up.  Making it hard to keep up her lie.

Like all comedies, they are only as good as their cast, and The Good Place has a great one.  Bell is hilarious, and Ted Danson as ‘The Architect’ of the neighborhood is still at the top of his game, but rest of the cast is great too.  They have good chemistry, and the laughs don’t stop coming.

While I doubt The Good Place will be used in seminary classes any time soon, it is a funny show, and another hit for Michael Schur.  You can watch the first season on Netflix, and the second season is airing now, so you can catch up on Hulu.com if you have it.  In these dark days without The Office or Parks and Rec it is nice to have The Good Place to visit.

Marvel’s Runaways Is Like A Teenage Version Of Its Netflix Siblings!

Marvel’s first show on Hulu feels very much like it should be on Netflix with Daredevil and his pals, but in this case they moved the action over to LA, so they didn’t have to deal with all that.  It is also feels like they aged it down just a touch, so that it would be more appropriate for teenage viewers.

The show is about a bunch of kids who think their parents are just everyday billionaires and super-scientists, but one night during one of their parents’ meetings they find out that their parents are involved in something troubling.  They obviously take it upon themselves to figure out what is going on, and they find out that they may not be as average as they thought they were as well.

So far the show is a little uneven, and the budget seems to be constricting them a bit, but it is fun to watch these kids deal with learning that their parents may be evil, while at the same time figuring out that they may have the power to stop their parents.  It is a little X-Men-y, but that is quite all right, and the natural separation that is caused by moving everything to the west coast works in Runaways favor.

As with most shows featuring a bunch young actors, the acting is a mixed bag, but in general it is pretty good.  Though what the show really has going in its favor is James Marsters (AKA Spike from Buffy).  It is always a treat to have him show up.  Also, I am once again not sure if his character has a soul or not.

The first season has seemed like a pilot so far.  Like they are testing the waters with this new show and streaming service, but not going all in.  Regardless, I have enjoyed Marvel’s Runaways, and I hope it keeps getting better.  The show has only aired four episodes, so maybe it finds firmer footing as it goes.

Baymax Returns But He Has Lost Some Dimension

Big Hero 6: The Series had its big premier with the short film (AKA two part episode) Baymax Returns, and while it was entertaining and fun, it was missing some of what made the original movie so good.  Namely, emotional depth.  The feature film Big Hero 6 was all about family and the importance of properly dealing with loss.  Big Hero 6: The Series is apparently going to be an easy breezy kids show.

Baymax Returns is pretty much what happens in the credits of the Big Hero 6 movie.  Hiro finds Baymax’s chip and starts to recreate him.  Meanwhile Fred is trying to convince the team to continue to be superheroes.  They on the other hand feel that their job is done.  Of course this would be a crappy show if they were right, so they are forced to continue to protect San Fransokyo from new threats.  Also, it turns out that they really like being superheroes.

I had a good time watching this show, and if you are a kid in the eight to thirteen demo, you will probably love this show.  It is hilarious, and the animation is well done (at least so far).  Plus, it has a great cast of characters.  The series just doesn’t pack the emotional punch that original Big Hero 6 did, and honestly it makes sense that a weekly TV show wouldn’t.  Disney is trying to sell merch not make kids cry, but it just feels hollow in comparison.

I am not going to rag on Disney XD anymore for making a pretty good show.  It will no doubt be another hit to add to their already impressive staple.  I just hope that Big Hero 6: The Series is successful enough to warrant another film, so we can explore the emotional dimensions of these characters further.  Instead of just laughing at their silly jokes and gaping at the pretty, fast moving action.

You Should Skip ‘See It/Skip It’!

Rotten Tomatoes forced me to watch their new show ‘See It/Skip it’ in order to get the Tomato Score for Justice League yesterday, and I won’t be doing it again.  Thanks to Metacritic I already knew what the score would probably be, but because Justice League is a major film, especially for a DC geek like me, I was super curious.  It was a mistake I will not be making twice.

Listen, even if they pull this, “We aren’t going to post the score until after the show airs for a few hours!”, nonsense again.  I will just be patient and wait for every other media outlet on the internet to tell me what it is because ‘See It/Skip It’ is almost unwatchable.  The hosts have no charisma, or any chemistry together, and it all comes off super scripted.  Plus, I am not sure why I am supposed to take their advice over the advice their website is already giving me.  For the record they both said ‘See It’ for Justice League that way you will know what everyone is taking about Monday, but that they didn’t think it was very good.  Which is kind of an odd stance to take.

Anyway, ‘See It/Skip it’ is a waste of everyone’s time.  There is so much other stuff to read and watch on the internet about movies, and I am sure just about all of it is better than ‘See It/Skip It’.  I am hoping Rotten Tomatoes will have a Tomato Score for its own show because it will not be good.

Will Anime Strike Work For Amazon?

Netflix recently went on record saying they were going to be putting a lot of money towards licensing and creating anime.  They also followed that up by raising rates for all but their most basic service, so it seems that more content requires more money.  Amazon is also aware of this, but instead of raising rates for all customers, they charge you an extra $4.99 a month for their ‘channel’, Anime Strike.

While on the surface $4.99 doesn’t seem like a lot for a streaming service that supposedly has more than 1000 series on it service, but you can only get Anime Strike if you have a Prime account.  Which is $99 a year, so $8.25 a month, but that includes a lot more than just streaming TV.  Anyway, Anime Strike plus Prime works out to $13.24 a month plus tax.  Which makes it a pretty expensive compared to other services.  Though to be far, most people already have a Prime subscription, and unlike the base Prime membership you can add and drop Strike at will, so if there is a series you want to see that you can watch it in a month you can cancel Anime Strike after you are done.

While it makes sense on the surface to charge people who want to watch niche programing more than people who don’t, I am just not sure it will pay off.  With all the services people are having to pay for now, I just don’t see that many people excited to spend another $5 on top of something they are already paying for.  In the end it will come down to content.

Amazon got me to try Anime Strike with their free trial because they were the only place that had ‘Sword Oratoria: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side’, but they didn’t have enough to keep me past the seven day trail.  This will be a problem for Amazon.  If they can’t get people to pay for its anime channel, than they will not have enough money to get more anime to keep up with Netflix, Hulu and Crunchy Roll.

It is just interesting to see Amazon going about this differently than everyone else, and I am not sure it is the right path to take.  We will see, I may end up spending an extra $4.99 month if they end up with the only place to get the content I want, so far that is not the case.