Game Show Review – Winsanity

I love general knowledge-based game shows. But what I especially love are game shows where the questions are too difficult/obscure to feasibly know, and you have to use logical reasoning and deduction to estimate an answer.

So I’m enjoying the new GSN show Winsanity. The premise of the show is that contestants will get a list of ten descriptions of numbers, and have to put them in numerical order. The questions will be things like “Weight of the Titanic in pounds,” or “Number of eggs that IHOP uses in a year,” or “Number of active Girl Scouts in the US,” or “Lifetime posts on Kendall Jenner’s Instagram account.”

Obviously you aren’t going to know these facts off the top of your head. So you have to think about them, come up with a basis for approximating them, and figure out how to rank them. And I find that really interesting and fun to play along at home.

The downside of the show is that there is way too much filler padding out the episodes. There’s all this nonsense about people in the audience having light up bracelets, and randomly sharing prizes with the contestants, and blah blah blah… I’m getting bored just writing about it. They only get through one board of ten questions in a half hour show, when they could easily get through four boards if they cut out all the crap. So the show is only watchable if you DVR it and fast-forward through the lame pointless boring stuff.

But I find the questions interesting enough that it’s well worth the six to eight minutes it takes to watch an episode when I skip past the garbage time, and I would definitely recommend it.

GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS – A Yelp Review of Winterfell Kennels

Game of Thrones Spoilers if you haven’t seen Season 6 Episode 9 below.

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Random text to keep spoilers from showing up in previews:

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…

Okay, here are the spoilers:

A Yelp review of Winterfell Kennels

By Huge Black Dog

I’ve been a fan of the Winterfell Kennels since I was a puppy. I think they serve the best human south of The Wall. So I was quite concerned to hear that Chef Ramsay had been replaced.

Still, I wanted to give Chef Sansa a chance, and I’m glad I did! I came hungry, and was excited to see my food already prepared for me. There was no chasing down my food like I sometimes had to do with Ramsay’s dishes.

Chef Sansa had prepared a delectable Tied Up Man’s Bloody Face. Let me tell you, I’ve always dreamed of the Face Buffet at the House of Black and White, but I’ve never been able to make it to Braavos. It was amazing to be able to eat face here in Winterfell!

It smelled scrumptious. I took one lick, and I was in love. It was as if she had taken the essence of Chef Ramsay and distilled it into this one wonderful dish. Then the food tried to give me commands, which made it even better! Let me tell you, there’s nothing better than chowing into food that thinks it’s your master! It was still screaming as I ate its face. Even better, the face had been pre-tenderized for me.

In her first try, Chef Sansa managed to top Chef Ramsay’s signature dish, Live Fat Woman With Newborn Baby. This was the best human I’ve ever tasted!

I considered taking a star off for the long wait, but the food was so good that I couldn’t bring myself to do so.

Five stars, must try!

[Someone has asked a question about this review]

That does sound delicious! Can you tell me if the faces are filleted like they are at the House of Black and White?

A Bear

[Huge Black Dog has responded to this question]

No, the face was still attached to the skull. However, some of the bones were pre-broken. Personally, I like a bit of crunch when I’m eating faces.

Huge Black Dog

[A bear has responded]

The crunch is nice, but if you’ve never had a face fillet, you’re missing out. You have to try the House of Black and White some time.

A Bear

[Huge Black Dog has responded]

I’d love to, but it’s difficult for me to book passage to Braavos, because I’m a dog.

Huge Black Dog

Broadway gets more ridiculous than Hollywood – Monopoly: The Musical

Recently my wife and I fast-forwarded through the Tony awards to watch the musical numbers that we found entertaining. After we finished, my wife asked me, “If I had told you a few years ago that a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton would dominate Broadway, would you have believed me?”

I said that I would, because Broadway has churned out so many musicals based on crazy ideas that I’ve ceased being surprised by them. In recent years we’ve seen hit musicals based on Mormons preaching sci-fi tropes to starving Africans, a coal miner obsessed with ballet, a Monty Python movie, making a hero out of the murderous dog-killing psychopathic top-five most hated movie villain of all time, an obscure crappy Mel Brooks movie about a bad play about Nazis, lecherous puppets, and a baby monster that grows up to be a big monster and wants to murder his uncle so he can become a dictator.

I claimed that nothing Broadway did would surprise me. If the smash hit musical of 2018 that has a six-month waiting list for $1,000 tickets turns out to be an opera/honky-tonk mash-up about a duck that plays the tuba, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised.

Apparently the universe heard my claim that nothing Broadway could do would surprise me and said, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” Because they’re making a musical about Monopoly.

I’ll say that again. They’re making a freaking musical about Monopoly. That lame boring board game you got sick of when you were ten. Somehow there will be a musical about it.

I can’t even offer any commentary or joke that is more insightful or snarky than saying that they’re making a musical about Monopoly.

They’re making a musical about Monopoly.

Follow up note: There’s also a Spongebob Squarepants musical.

How Survivor Changed TV

I previously discussed how and why Survivor is my favorite show currently on TV.

I found this article really interesting, discussing how the creation of alliances in Survivor ended up being a game-changer for TV in general.

Anyway, I’m excited for the season finale tonight. (For those of you watching, I’m on hashtag Team Aubry.)

 

 

Scooby Doo and Shared Cinematic/TV Universes

News recently came out that Hanna Barbera is going to have a shared cinematic universe. I’ll get to my thoughts on that specifically in a bit, but this is a good opportunity to talk about shared cinematic universes and shared TV universes in general.

While I did enjoy the Avengers movie, I think that for the most part a shared cinematic universe is a bad idea. It undercuts the focus on who the movie is supposed to be about, creates all sorts of logic problems, and leads to movies being dumb.

Here’s an example: Captain America is someone who is exceptionally strong and athletic, and highly skilled at throwing an indestructible frisbee. You can tell a lot of interesting stories around that. But when Captain America’s buddies are someone who is strong enough to throw around tanks, a super-genius billionaire with high powered armor who can fly, shoot death rays and exploder rays, and psychically control an army of flying killer robots, and a literal god, what’s the point of Captain America? What possible mission could Captain America actually contribute to? Is there anything that the Avengers would be able to accomplish that Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor wouldn’t be able to do minus Captain America?

So Captain America either becomes superfluous to his own movie, or his friends are inexplicably absent during some huge crisis, off eating shwarma while the fate of the world hangs on Captain America struggling to complete some herculean task that would be trivially easy for a higher powered superhero.

And don’t even get me started on how the Avengers also include a chick who doesn’t have superpowers at all and is just pretty good at fighting, and a non-super-powered dude who is just good at shooting arrows.

(This SNL skit kind of sums up my feelings on that.)


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/54079263″>JR-SNL The avengers</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user14827238″>Andrew</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The Avengers was entertaining as a novelty/spectacle, but studios have taken the exact wrong lesson from that and are trying to replicate cinematic universes. Also, note that most of the Marvel movies since The Avengers have been disappointments, as the filmmakers struggle to find good stories to tell that fit into the broader context that has already gotten too complicated to handle.

I won’t bother joining the gajillion people tearing into Batman vs. Superman. But I will point out that because it’s part of a shared universe, it has already ruined the Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, and Justice League movies are are going to come out over the next few years. These movies, which might have worked on their own, will be saddled with the legacy and dreadful story points that Zack Snyder crapped onto them.

On the other hand, I do think that shared TV universes work. TV shows have a broader range of stories to tell, and can take the time to service many characters over many different episodes. Putting The Flash and The Green Arrow together in a movie would be dumb, because there’s absolutely nothing the Green Arrow can do that the Flash can’t do better. The Flash could pick up an arrow, run over, and then stab someone with it, faster than the Green Arrow could shoot it. But in a TV show where there’s more time to breathe, the writers can come up with a handful of stories where it makes sense to put them together, while keeping them separate and in separate cities for most of the stories.

(The Marvel/Netflix shared TV universe shows are on my queue, but I haven’t had a chance to watch them, so I can’t comment. However, everyone seems to think Daredevil and Jessica Jones are pretty good. And it does seem like these shows are using heroes with a similar power level, which avoids some of the silliness from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Then there’s the upcoming Hanna Barbera cinematic universe, which is just bizarre. How does it make any sense for Scooby Doo to meet Fred Flintstone or George Jetson? What would that possibly contribute to a story, and how twisted will they have to make the rules of the world to bring those characters together? This really feels like a studio jumping on the shared universe bandwagon just because it’s trendy, rather than anything that was the result of someone having a good story to tell.

On the other hand, there aren’t any Zack Snyders involved in this. The Hanna Barbera Cinematic Universe is being done under the direction of the creative team behind The Lego Movie, which was excellent. And they’re starting with a Scooby Doo movie directed by the director of the Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated TV show, which is probably my all-time favorite show that you’ve never heard of and would be shocked to learn is good. (Seriously, check out Scooby Doo Mystery Inc on Netflix. It’s amazing. Unlike every other incarnation of Scooby Doo, it has real character development and ongoing stories. Imagine Scooby Doo done by Joss Whedon, without Whedon’s malevolent sense of life.)

So as wary as I am over the Hanna Barbera Cinematic Universe, I am excited to see a movie follow up to the best version of Scooby Doo.

Men in Black/21 Jump Street Crossover

Men in Black is one of my all-time favorites. And I thought that 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street were two of the funniest movies of the last half-decade. But the idea of crossing them over is just bizarre.

I have a lot of reservations about this. There’s nothing inherently funny or interesting about a spoof of an 80s TV show about cops pretending to be teenagers – What made the Jump Street movies so brilliant was the writing and directing. But this has a different writer and director. And the sequels to MIB were, well, I can’t come up with a nicer way to describe them than steaming piles of crap trying to coast on your memories of the original.

But it could be good. This certainly doesn’t seem like a cynical cash grab movie. Usually cynical cash grabs consist of a studio executive saying “Here’s a property people are vaguely familiar with that. Let’s make a movie out of that, plan out the toys and fast food tie-ins, and then come up with a story as an afterthought.” However, the idea of a MIB/21 Jump Street crossover is so strange that I can’t imagine a genesis for it that doesn’t involve someone coming up with a good idea for a story first, and then packaging the movie to support that. (Well, I can imagine a genesis that involves lots of drugs, but they’d have to come up with a good story in order to convince the studio to go along with that crazy idea.)

Hollywood may be out of ideas, but it’s nice that they can at least come up with interesting ways to combine their old ideas. This movie may end up being amazing or it may end up a disaster, but it’s unlikely to be a boring rehash of generic crap we’ve seen a thousand times before.

On Deadpool’s February release

When a movie is released in February, that means the studio executives think it won’t be very good. They’ve seen the movie, so they usually know more about its quality than we do.

Here’s a list of the top 200 February releases by opening weekend domestic box office. Most of them are pretty dreadful.

But sometimes the studio executives are wrong, and a movie they expect to suck will be good/embraced by audiences. The studios are most likely to underestimate a movie when it’s an unusual movie that doesn’t fit into a neat bucket and the studios don’t quite know what to make of it. Examples are The Lego Movie, Coraline, Kingsman, Warm Bodies, and (while this wasn’t my cup of tea) Passion of the Christ.

On the other hand, when a conventional movie is released in February, the studio is almost certainly correct it their belief that it is going to suck. For example, Daredevil, Constantine, Shutter Island, Friday the 13th remake from 2009, Norbit, 50 First Dates, Scream 3, Identity Thief, The Wolfman, Percy Jackson, Jumper, Die Hard 5, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider 2, The Monuments Man, RoboCop remake, The Pink Panther Remake, Jupiter Ascending, Dante’s Peak, Shanghai Noon 2: Shanghai Knights, Collateral Damage, Sphere, Hall Pass, and 832 different Tyler Perry movies.

Anyway, I think that Deadpool certainly fits into the “unusual” category. So that’s a reason to be hopeful about it despite its February release. And it’s at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Deadline has a highly positive review. So I’m looking forward to it.

What makes movies great and how they can be better

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