Season Review: The Mandalorian Season 3

The Mandalorian returns for its third season and features the return of Pedro Pascale (along with body doubles Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder) as Din Djarin. Also returning is Katie Sackhoff as Bo Katan Kryze, Emily Swallow as the Armorer, Carl Weathers as Greef Carga, Jon Favreau and Tait Fletcher as Paz Vizla, and Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon. It also features, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Katie M. O’Brian, Simon Kassianides, Mercedes Varnado, Marit Matulis, with Nonso Anozie and Ahmed Best.

After becoming an apostate in The Book of Boba Fett, Din Djarin must make his way to the devastated home world of the Mandalorians in order to find atonement and reclaim his place among his clade. But even if he succeeds and finds redemption, there’s still the matter of the disorganized tribes of Mandalorians wandering the galaxy, pirates harassing the Outer Rim, the ineffectual bureaucracy of the New Republic and looming threat from the remnants of the Empire.

Warning: The Following Will Contain Spoilers

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Pilot Review: Lackadaisy

The year is 1927, the place is St. Louis, Missouri. It’s the Era of Prohibition, the days of gangsters and rum-runners. A time of shifty politicians, roaring tommy guns, and illegal cocktails (whether drinking or of the Molotov variety). Amidst all of this, the recently widowed Mitzi May tries to keep her husband’s speakeasy, The Lackadaisy, afloat against the ever-encroaching rival, The Marigold. Aided by an eclectic band of misfits: the hyperactive Rocky Rickaby, his cousin the timid but frighteningly effective gunman Calvin “Freckle” McMurray, the surly Slovak bartender Viktor Vasko, the sweet but overly enthusiastic Ivy Pepper and the world weary saxophonist Dorian “Zib” Zibowski will try to keep the law and competition at bay. Easier said than done as The Marigold has scooped up many of Lackadaisy’s former employees like the bookkeeper turned hatchet man, Mordecai Heller and brought in new muscle to knock them out of the alcohol business and into the obituaries.

Oh, did I forget to mention that it’s cast are all anthropomorphic cats?

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Season Review: Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina

Watching the progression of Critical Role through their respective arcs is a fascinating thing; seeing the ups and downs through the players and the Dungeon Master’s experience provides new insights into how things worked. If the Underdark arc was about the players getting properly used to the 5th edition rules of Dungeons & Dragons, getting comfortable performing their roleplay for live online. Then the Briarwood arc was about taking everything they learned beforehand and immersing themselves into a dark tale of justice and revenge. But it was the third (and longest running arc of the first campaign) that not only showcased the actor’s skill as gamers and roleplayers, but also Matt Mercer’s skill as a storyteller. When a cadre of dragons utterly destroy the sovereignty of Tal’Dorei, decimating the city that had been the hub and home for our heroes, and completely annihilating the status quo, there was no doubt about it. The players and the multitude of fans watching at home were hooked.

Season 2 of The Legend of Vox Machina sees the return of Laura Bailey (Vex), Liam O’Brien (Vax), Travis Willingham (Grog), Marisha Ray (Keyleth), Ashley Johnson (Pike), Sam Riegel(Scanlon) and Taliesin Jaffe (Percy) with Matt Mercer filling in several other roles. It also brings in two of guest characters from the campaign in Will Friedle as Kashaw Vesh and May Elizabeth McGlynn as Zahra Hydris. Rounding out the other guest appearances include Lance Reddick as Thordak, Cree Summer as Raishan, Ralph Ineson as Kevdak, Henry Winkler as Wilhand Trickfoot, Kelly Hu as Dr. Ripley, Alanna Ubach and Tony Plana as the sphinxes Osysa and Kamajiori, with Troy Baker as Syldor Vessar and Billy Boyd as Garmelie.

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Season Review: Velma

Velma is the latest reinterpretation of the long-running Scooby-Doo franchise, in this case an adult animated series produced by Mindy Kaling and frequent collaborator Charlie Grady. It stars Kaling as the lead character Velma Dinkley, Constance Wu as Daphne Blake, Sam Richardson as Norville Rogers, Glenn Howerton as Fred Jones and Frank Welker as William Jones.

This show is without a doubt, a pile of hot trash. One of the most mean-spirited, disrespectful and grossly inappropriate (especially since the cast is supposed to be minors) shows I’ve had the displeasure of witnessing. This is less of an adult reimagining of a classic cartoon series and more of an excuse for Mindy Kaling to rant about whatever is eating her at the moment. It pains me that Warner Discovery automatically renewed this for a second season even while they hack up their animation departments like an axe murderer.

In conclusion: this show can die in the lowest abyss. Mindy, taking a beloved IP to work through your issues is a bad idea. And if you really want a dark but hilarious Scooby-Doo, just watch that episode from The Venture Bros. with the parody Mystery Gang themed around serial killers. At least that show was clever and funny.

There. Review over. Seriously, watch something else.

Season Review: The Witcher Blood Origin

The Witcher: Blood Origin is limited-series from Netflix and a prequel to The Witcher. Created by Declan de Barra and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, stars Sophia Brown, Laurence O’Fuarain, Huw Novelli, Lizzie Annis, Zach Wyatt, Francesca Mills, Jacob Collins-Levy, Mirren Mack, Lenny Henry, with Joey Batey, Minnie Driver and Michelle Yeoh.

Framed as a story being told to the main series’ Jaskier, the story is set over a thousand years before the events of The Witcher, in the age before the arrival of humans during the waning days of the elf empire. A bloody coup forces a band of unlikely heroes to band together and both avenge their fallen friends and family and stop the villains’ machinations before it threatens their entire world.

Warning: Spoilers are to follow.

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Season Review: Andor

Andor is the latest show from the Star Wars franchise on Disney+ and was created by Tony Gilroy. It stars Diego Luna who reprises his role as Cassian Andor from Rogue One as well as Genevieve O’Reilly and Forest Whitaker as Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera. It also stars Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Kyle Soller, Denise Gough, Faye Marsay, Varada Sethu, Dave Chapman, Anton Lesser, Joplin Sibtain, Alex Fearns with Andy Serkis and Fiona Shaw.

Set five years before the events of Rogue One where Andor and his team of Rebels would complete their mission of acquiring the technical details of the Death Star at the cost of their lives. This series details the early stages of the Rebellion viewed from the perspectives of Mon Mothma’s attempts of reform within the Imperial Senate, her dealings with the shadowy broker Luthen Rael and Andor, a thief caught up in events bigger than he could imagine.

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Season Review: The Cuphead Show! Season 3

The Cuphead Show! returns to Netflix for its third and final season and once again features Tru Valentino and Frank Todaro as Cuphead and Mugman with Grey DeLisle as Ms. Chalice, Joe Hanna as Elder Kettle, Luke Millington-Drake as the Devil and Wayne Brady as Mr. King Dice. It also features the return of Gary Anthony Williams as Quadratus, Chris Wylde and Rick Zieff as Ribby and Croaks, Marcia Gay Harden as Sally Stageplay  and additional voices by Dave Wasson and Cosmo Segurson.

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Season Review: House of the Dragon

Game of Thrones holds an interesting place in television history. It wasn’t the first fantasy epic to premiere on the small screen, it wasn’t the first adaptation that had to wing it as it ran out of material from the series it was based on. And it certainly wasn’t the first television series to lose all good faith from the audience as a combination of poor creative choices squandered all of its potential and retroactively ruined all that was good in its earlier seasons. It’s just the most infamous example in recent history. The final season became so taboo that even the numerous planned spin-offs seemed dead in the water as faith in the world of Westeros evaporated.

So the fact that House of the Dragon was greenlit at all is quite the surprise.

House of the Dragon is the latest political fantasy drama from HBO and adapted from George R. R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood. Set almost two hundred years before the events of Game of Thrones it details the events leading up a time of political strife and eventual civil war within the Targaryen Dynasty known as “the Dance of the Dragons.”

It stars Paddy Considine King Viserys, Matt Smith as Prince Daemon, Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra, Olivia Cooke and Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower, Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower, Eve Best as Rhaenys, Steve Toussaint as Corlys Velaryon, Fabien Frankel as Criston Cole, Theo Nate and John Macmillan as Laenor,  Nova Foueillis-Mosé, Savannah Steyn and Nanna Blondell as Laena, Ty Tennant and Tom Glynn-Carney as Aegon II, Evie Allen and Phia Saban as Helaena, Leo Ashton and Ewan Mitchell as Aemond, Leo Hart and Harry Collett as Jacaerys, Harvey Sadler and Elliot Grihault as Lucerys.

It also features Sian Brooke, Bethany Antonia, Shani Smethurst, Phoebe Campbell, Eva Ossei-Gerning, Gavin Spokes, Bill Paterson, David Horovitch, Kurt Egyiawan, Matthew Needham and Graham McTavish.

Warning: Spoilers are to follow.

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Season Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Like so many others before me, J. R. R. Tolkien’s works were my introduction to high fantasy. I was enthralled when I first read The Hobbit back in the fourth grade and it wouldn’t be long before Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy would capture my imagination and not let go.

And so I’d like to bring up one of my favorite moments from the second movie, The Two Towers. During the Battle of Helm’s Deep, not long after the walls are breached and our heroes are ordered to fall back for safety. The elf Haldir is clipped by an uruk blade and for a brief moment is knocked out of his combat mindset and looks to see all of the other elves that had joined him in battle, all dead. The look of horror and disbelief at seeing his kin and comrades-in-arms slain on the battlefield is haunting and ultimately fatal for him as he’s soon struck down.

The thing is, none of this was in the books. No Lórien elves come to honor their alliance with men, no moment of tragedy as they gave their lives for a slim chance of victory, no Aragorn getting only a moment to mourn before he furiously throws himself at the enemy to avenge his fallen friend. And yet, I still love this scene. Not just because Aragorn socking a six-foot-something monster in the face was undoubtedly cool but because the preceding moment stays true to Tolkien’s writing of how terrible and grim war is, and how heartbreaking it is lose someone close even in the battle for life and freedom. It’s fan-created, but it honors the spirit of the story.

But let’s table that for later…

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the latest series from Amazon Prime Video and created by Patrick McKay and John D. Payne. It stars Morfydd Clark, Charlie Vickers, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Nazanin Boniadi, Tyroe Muhafidin, Lloyd Owen, Maxim Baldry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Megan Richards, Daniel Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and Trystan Gravelle.

The series acts as prequel to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings being set during the Second Age, before the crafting of the Rings of Power and the fall of Sauron during the War of the Last Alliance. It follows the personal quests of elves, men, proto hobbits and mysterious entities all over Middle-earth.

But how is it?

Fair warning, Spoilers are to follow.

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