Media Medley – February 2016

It’s the last Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to yammer on about all the movies, TV shows, books, comics, games, and whatever else I consumed during the previous month, talking about each one briefly and what I liked or disliked about it, with a single recommendation at the end.

Away we go for February!

Movies:

Deadpool –  The Fox vehicle that surprised pretty much everyone, starring Ryan Reynolds as a psychotic, fourth-wall breaking maniac in a red suit. It was everything I hoped it would be and more: smart, violent, raunchy, insane, and more meta than most can handle. I’m so glad it took the world by storm and that it was the X-Men movie franchise’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” moment. That is to say, a risky movie about niche characters the mainstream public knew almost nothing about that turned into a frickin’ sensation overnight.

Rebuild of Evangelion – 1.11, 2.22, and 3.33 – Three movies that are re-imaginings of the most important anime of the ’90s and arguably, ever. There’s a fourth in the works, but 3.33 released this month in the States so I decided it was a good time to watch everything that was available. While I feel like a lot of the power of the original series has been filed away to make for a more friendly experience, it’s been a lot of fun watching a remake with state of the art CG animation breathing new life into the mecha sequences.

TV Shows:

The X-Files – I came away from the new X-Files feeling pretty lackluster. It spent far too much time drinking its own Kool-Aid, but I really dug the Were-Monster episode, so it wasn’t all bad. And it ended on such a ridiculous cliffhanger that I hope it continues just so I can get some actual fucking closure.

iZombie – Season 2 – One of three zombie shows I turn up for, this one has the best story and several characters I really like to watch. Still enjoying its back-half of Season 2.

Brooklyn 99 – Season 3 – Still my favorite currently-airing comedy, but it’s started doing a thing I’m not overly fond of. They’re playing on the guest stars pretty heavy, which is fine, but it’s detracting from the natural ebb and flow of the show’s lighthearted drama elements.

Flash/Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow – Current Seasons – Arrow has continued to be mildly interesting, but I just hope it tries to recapture its Season 2 flair before people get so bored with it that its low viewership affects the others shows. Flash and Legends of Tomorrow are still tons of fun and something I look forward to with great zeal every week.

Agent Carter – Season 2 – The season has nearly come to a close, and with its renewal questionable amid plummeting ratings, it may be the last we see of Agent Carter circa 1940s period drama. I’m still rather enjoying the show, and Dottie is one of the best villains in superhero TV, period, so it’s been a fun romp.

Supergirl – Season 1 – I’ve been going back and forth on this show. It started off really strong and has maintained a fun and positive atmosphere throughout, but it’s had some stinker episodes with limp-wristed villains of the week that has been holding it down. I’d like to see it get renewed, not least of reasons because it shares a multiverse with Flash on The CW and will see a crossover event in March, which means more possibilities for crossover events.

Supernatural – Season 11 – Its 11th season has continued to do fun things with its characters, and the most refreshing thing of all is that they appear to have moved away from the plot element of keeping secrets from each other to create drama, so it’s all to the good right now.

Casual – Season 1 – A Hulu show about the most dysfunctional family this side of Shameless, it is incredibly candid about relationships and social dysfunction, not to mention the weirder side of sexual intimacy, and is an interesting show.

Sirens – Season 2 – A workplace comedy in the vein of Brooklyn 99, following EMTs and a couple beat cops on their daily jobs out helping the good people of Chicago. It isn’t quite as funny as Brooklyn 99, but it does have a really great cast of characters that play off each other well. I’ve heard this one did not get renewed for a third season, which makes me sad.

LOVE – Season 1 – The Judd Apatow Netflix show, which means it’s quirky, weird, awkward, and most of all, strangely honest and direct about relationships and sex. I think the most interesting thing this show has done (I haven’t finished it yet) is run an episode where the two main stars hardly see each other at all, followed by an episode that’s all about them together. It’s an interesting high-tide/low-tide of new relationships and how they start off barely belonging in your world until suddenly they’re your entire world.

The Walking Dead – Season 6 – The back half of the season started back up, giving us the cliffhanger closure from the midseason finale we’ve been waiting for, followed up by the introduction of a character many fans of the comic have been dying to see, as his appearance sparks the next major story arc. I love Walking Dead because when it hits, it hits hard and great, which allows me the benefit of forgiving its low points.

Z-Nation – Season 2 – The last zombie show in my queue, a ridiculous almost-parody of The Walking Dead, it is every corny B-horror zombie movie you know and love, but in a TV series. This show gets points for its main character being a black woman with a lot of subtlety and nuance to her character, despite being in a show where their MO is to kill a zombie in an interesting and new way every episode. They used a giant cheese wheel in Season 2. It maybe also killed a cow.

Games:

Minecraft – Modded – We’ve been playing a decent amount of Minecraft at this point, though also a fair amount is just testing and error checking our new mod pack.

Bastion – I cleared a few areas in this game, but like last month did not make an appreciable effort to play it much. It is better in small doses to me than one long binge-session.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Beat it the other day and was quite happy with the experience. The game itself is criminally easy, its puzzles often scarcely able to be called such, but that was by design for asking a player to realign decades of muscle memory in order to play it.

Antichamber – I’ve hardly begun this ridiculous concept, but essentially it has no story that I can tell. Just pure puzzle-solving without ever really explaining the mechanics of the game. Most of my time has been spent working around the preconceived notions of 3D exploration games in order to progress deeper into the world that is Antichamber.

Comics:

Didn’t read any comics again in February, though I did purchase the first volume of Rat Queens and am looking forward to checking it out.

Books:

Peter David – Artful – Closing in on the end of this vampyre story culled from the Oliver Twist narrative. It has continued to be a bold and funny departure from the much more serious origin.

Various – Silvia Moreno-Garcia Editor – She Walks in Shadows – I finished this anthology and was quite happy with the outcome. There were several stories in it that I really loved, but I think I have to give it to Pandora Hope for “Eight Seconds”.

Christopher Ruz – Rust Three – Haven’t quite finished this horror story yet, either, though I am close. It is perhaps not as focused as the first two, but the pacing is still just spot-on and I’m still a fan.

Elizabeth Haydon – The Symphony of Ages book 7 – The Merchant Emperor – A book series that is chiefly responsible for getting me back into reading after I dropped out of college, focused on a character named Rhapsody. It is High Fantasy, written in an almost lyrical tone in an interesting world full of magic, dragons, and demons like none I had seen before. The series went on hiatus for several years and only last year did it start progressing again, and I am a little disappointed so far in the 7th entry. What perhaps was my reason for loving it when I was 19 is now cause for my boredom with the prose. Or perhaps the lyrical quality I remember in the early books is still there and something has changed for the worse.

Chuck Wendig – Atlanta Burns book 2 – The Hunt – I wrote at length about the first in this book series last year for my “It Inspires Me” post, and the same holds true for the sequel. Atlanta continues to be a figure of justice and wrath in a Pennsylvania so familiar to my Rust Belt upbringing it’s like I’m actually there. She makes bad choices for good reasons, gets into trouble and doesn’t forgive easy, but is always trying to be a better person. It’s an adult look at the ways in which teenagers are abused, ignored, taken advantage of, and manipulated that isn’t preachy or false. I said before that it felt like The Outsiders for the Millenial generation, and that’s still true now. Hell, there’s even a woman named Cherry in this one.

Kim Harrison – The Hollows Book 11 – Ever After – This is my audio book listen right now, and has been my pseudo-romance urban fantasy guilty pleasure for years now (since 2004 to be precise). In the vein of other urban fantasy stories that have vampires, witches, fey creatures, and the like, The Hollows follows a witch named Rachel Morgan, a private investigator and bounty hunter for the non-human world living in and around Cincinnati after a genetic plague wiped out a large percent of the human population. I’ve always thought The Hollows was a better put-together urban fantasy than most of the others, and to this day, even though I still have a few books to listen to, I believe that holds true. Rachel Morgan and her friends are diverse and interesting, and they’re always getting into trouble they should probably have avoided.

Short Stories:

Kij Johnson – 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss – This was linked to me yesterday and it immediately took over my mental focus once I was finished with it. The premise is that a woman, Aimee, has a carnival act in which 26 well-trained monkeys perform tricks before crowding into a bathtub and vanishing into thin air. The monkeys always appear later, but Aimee has no idea how they disappear or where they go. It’s a really interesting story and I posted my thoughts about it on Goodreads, but I’d suggest you go on in with no more preconceptions than I’ve already given you.

*****

That’s it for February! It has been a shorter month and I got through fewer things, but I think I enjoyed this month more than January overall.

My recommendation for the month is sort of tied between “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”and Atlanta Burns – The HuntBoth are remarkable in their own ways, but I think 26 Monkeys edges out The Hunt because it packed so much contemplative feeling into a short story. You can read it for free at the link above, and I highly recommend it. Thanks to Valerie Valdes for linking it!

*****

And now what, pray tell, have you been up to, dear readers? Have you watched or read or played anything that you would recommend? Have you been deeply disappointed by The X-Files as I am?  Give me something new to check out in the comments below!

One thought on “Media Medley – February 2016

  1. I’m going to read 26 monkeys just because. We’ve been watching Super Girl. It’s ok not as good as I thought it would be however. I’ve read Rust One and purchased the next two. I’m interested enough to red the next book so it’s good. Of course you know I don’t read comics or play games. Maybe someday. Hahaha! Not really.
    Keep up the posts on Thirsday it’s good commentary and makes me either want to watch/read some of it and run from others!
    Love it and you!!😍🐵🙈🙉🙊🐵🙈🙉🙊🐵🙈🙉🙊🐵🙈🙉🙊🐵🙈🙉🙊🐵🙈🙉🙊🐵

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