Halo’s TV Show Is an Utter Disappointment

I’m staring at my laptop screen guiltily, realizing that this, the first post I’ve posted in months, is not to share some life achievement or to inundate you, my Above Average readers, with the superb writing skills I’ve purportedly been honing while I’ve been gone.

Instead I’m going to complain about a TV show.

But goddammit, I can’t help it.

You want to know why I’ve been so absent lately? It’s because of work. I edit, write, and assist in managing a website that focuses primarily on gaming content, and trust me when I say it’s not as fun-filled as it sounds. It takes discipline to be on top of your schedule, diplomacy to work with the various (honestly wonderful, who am I kidding) personality types in our online spaces, and dedication to be working 42-hour weeks on average. (Sometimes it’s more.)

So in my downtime, I like to take some time to actually enjoy the medium my career now orbits around. I play games and I watch TV shows related to these games.

And as you, my faithful Above Average readers, might know by now, there is no gaming franchise I adore more than Halo.

And fucking fuck, they messed it all up.

I didn’t go into the new Paramount Plus show with bitter pessimism. I went into it with eager hope. And those first three episodes had me mightily intrigued. I liked a lot of the things this Silver timeline was dishing out.

Side note: For those of you not in the know, the Halo TV series has crafted this “Silver timeline” that stands separate from the events in the games and books and assorted canon materials. It’s basically a carte blanche to work with the content of the games without having to be bound by their existing narrative.

And while I wasn’t keen on Master Chief removing his helmet (the Halo equivalent of blowing your load outside of the restaurant before you’ve even met that first date), I wasn’t uber pissed about it. I was patient. Willing to see what they were going to give me.

They gave me a heaping pile of Moa shit.

They presented this character named Kwan Ha to us in the first episode as if she would be a foil to Master Chief. Where he was a jaded, brainwashed super soldier, she would be the spirited rebel with no desire to submit to the UNSC, the one to convince him to break free.

But they basically spent two episodes together and then never saw each other again.

And while Kwan Ha’s background appeared interesting, we never got the chance to really see it aside from one flashback. You can’t expect me to care as much about a side story you did not even have the decency to fully develop when you then decides to give it its own whole episode.

That’s not to say there weren’t good moments in the show. Many of the action setpieces were awesome, and I actually really liked the characters of Cortana, Dr. Halsey, Kai, and Captain Keyes.

But you know who I grew to loathe?

Master frickin’ Chief.

Or should I say John?

I don’t know who they think the Master Chief is, but it’s definitely not the douche nozzle they gave us.

I don’t even care that they showed his face at this point! Could they at least have made him less of a jerk?

Side note: I’d also like it if they could make Master Chief a person who does not sleep with a Covenant spy. That would be nifty. That would be really swell.

He frequently makes the most irrational of decisions, leaving us fans wondering hopelessly at what his motivations are. He gets angry in almost every pivotal moment in this one episode, and it just cements him as this unlikable person. It says something about how a character has been developed when you find yourself sympathizing with the scientist who kidnapped, experimented on, and lied to him rather than him.

For instance, at one point, Master Chief removes this emotion-blocking pellet from his lower spine so he can feel his feelings better. A fellow Spartan, Kai, sees this and gets the idea to do it herself. However, when she almost happily presents him with this information, he gets mad at her and declares her unfit for combat.


Look, the thing that’s so cool about Master Chief is how much he gives and does for humanity, with little to no thought for his well-being. The drive he has to finish his fights and protect humanity whatever the cost makes him a hero.

You don’t see that here in the show. At all. You get a bit of it at the ending, but it feels less like a heroic act and more like a well-there-is-literally-nothing-else-I-can-do-to-get-out-of-this-situation act.

And I get it. Master Chief as he is in the games is a larger-than-life character. It’s tough to translate that to a TV show and have him be this relatable person.

Which is why this show should not have been about Master Chief.

Master Chief could have been a prominent figure in the show, but the main character should have been someone like Kwan Ha or Miranda Keyes or a random UNSC marine. Someone just trying to get through the struggles of a human-Covenant war from a position and perspective we could understand more easily.

If any of my Above Average readers are Halo fans, do you remember Forward Unto Dawn, that little miniseries 343 Industries did to promote Halo 4? That is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Lasky was just a dude with an allergy trying to figure out if he wanted to stay in school or not, with an intimidating mom and an older brother everyone thought was better. And when his school got attacked by the Covenant and Chief rescued some of Lasky and his classmates, he looked friggin’ awesome and amazing, but he did not detract in any way from Lasky’s story. If anything, he enhanced it. He inspired Lasky to be a better man, a better soldier in times of crisis. When Lasky decides to be a distraction so Chief can get a better angle on a Hunter, that moment is all Lasky. You are cheering for him, even though Master Chief is being way cool and flipping around sticking plasma grenades on the Hunter.

Side note: AXIOS!

That’s what this show should have been.

Okay, I’ve moaned and complained about this little video game television show enough. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal that it sucks eggs. I got to watch the show with a friend who loves Halo as much as I do, and that made the whole thing pretty funny, even though we were both shrieking, “What?!” more than half the time an episode was on.

I feel the need to apologize for not posting much, i.e. at all, these past few weeks. It’s not been some glorious vacation or anything. Work has been work. I spend hours of my day plugged into my computer, stuck in my computer chair, doing computer things for a job that entails a lot of computer. And when I’m done, I find myself wanting to hang out as far away from my computer as I can. Sometimes I’ll go for a nice walk; sometimes I’ll flop on the couch and watch YouTube videos. Other times, I’ll turn on my Xbox and play a few games.

Side note: My Xbox is not my computer, shush. It’s an entirely different thing, not the same at all. I’m on the couch when I play.

So I’m sorry for not being around much.

Actually, heck, I don’t know why I’m apologizing. I’m not sure how many of you are still with me. I don’t even look at my stats page anymore. For all I know, I’m posting this into the void. But it was fun to write it.

And as I keep reminding myself, that’s what matters. That it’s fun. And as long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it.

See you in the next post, my glorious, possibly nonexistent, Above Average readers!

I rate Paramount Plus’ Halo series a my-god-it-is-below-average-it-is-so-below-average-it’s-worse-than-my-blog-and-that’s-saying-something-because-my-blog-sucks.

Life Update #12: Can We Talk for a Moment About How Terrible Paramount+ Captions Are?

There’s nothing I like more than settling in to watch a movie or show I’ve seen a thousand times on a streaming service, complete with captions so I can read what my ears might have missed out on.

And it feels like Paramount+ is going out of its way to discourage that.

Let me back up a bit.

About a year ago, I got Paramount+ courtesy of my mother. She uses it to watch her favorite crime shows, I use it for SpongeBob.

I never put on captions when I watch SpongeBob because it’s a loud cartoon that I put on in the background while I’m cleaning, working, or napping. (It’s a utilitarian kids show.)

Recently, the news about that Halo show coming to Paramount+ (which I am super pumped about!) caught my interest in the service enough to explore its library and settle on some viewing content.

So last night, I queued up Star Trek: The Original Series, got on a call with one of my bestest buddies, and together we sat and enjoyed it, watching the rampant sexism dripping in every episode, laughing in disbelief the whole time.

Side note: It’s pretty bad. I’m not gonna lie.

At some point, I thought to turn on captions. It’s easier to enjoy sci-fi jargon if you can read it. However, the show continued on, and the captions never appeared.

Or so it seemed.

Turns out, the Paramount+ captions on the Xbox Series X app are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. They’re not just bad; they’re practically offensive.

They are in the tiniest of fonts and the letters are black. If Spock walks onto the bridge and speaks, his words disappear against the blackness of his pants.

Now apparently, the fix for this is to go into my Xbox’s settings and configure the captions there. But damn if I wasn’t just floored by how terrible those captions looked right from the get-go.

I have yet to experiment with how these captions can be improved. I didn’t want to interrupt my Star Trek viewing party, so I persisted in subtitle-less viewing last night. You can bet I’m going to fiddle with them tonight though.

And yes, not a lot is happening in my life aside from work and video games, so captions being abysmal is a massive life update for me now. But honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

I mean, well, I could.

If these captions were better.

Sit Down and Watch Some WandaVision: WandaVision Review

I’m a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as is most of the globe at this point. (Is that an overgeneralization? Maybe. But I’m making it anyways!)

So no matter what the MCU elects to churn out to the masses, I’m going to watch it. I’m going to immerse myself in the trailers and the lore discussions and the review videos afterwards. It’s a whole process.

When I first saw the trailers for WandaVision, I was mightily intrigued. The show appeared to be doing something it had never tried before. Both Wanda Maximoff and the Vision were seen in these sitcom roles from various eras of television. This would be mystifying enough if it weren’t for the fact that the character of Vision was considered dead at this point.

What follows is going to be a spoiler-free review on the off chance you haven’t seen the show yet. (Though given that it’s been about a month since the last episode released, you really should have checked it out by now.) And yeah, I know I’m covering the show way later than I should. But, I mean, I am a Below Average person. It’s part of my descriptor. Might as well cover shows in a Below Average fashion, right?

WandaVision uses perhaps the most interesting vehicle I’ve yet seen to tell a Marvel Cinematic Universe story. It follows the familiar structure of sitcoms to tell its tale, so much so that you might not understand what’s going on at first.

Any fan of the MCU will enjoy this show as it offers a unique perspective into certain events that were never really explained in the films, and the sitcom angle is really quite fascinating. Newcomers to the MCU should definitely not start here, as the appeal of many moments in WandaVision rely heavily on past occurrences in the movies.

However, the people who will truly appreciate WandaVision are those who both love the MCU and have a deep-seated affection for a good sitcom. WandaVision is an homage to the art of the sitcom, and even though I’m not overly familiar with every sitcom on the block, even I could recognize the trends and stereotypes it was poking fun at.

Character development in WandaVision could have been something that was washed over thanks to the shiny appeal of the sitcom trappings, but several fan-favorite MCU characters get to display how the events of both Infinity War and Endgame have affected them. I’m just going to go right out and say it: Wanda in particular is the one to watch.

Unfortunately, and this is perhaps one of the most prevalent MCU weaknesses across the board, the “villain” suffers from rather unclear motivations and power mechanics. You are introduced to their story in a single episode, and no big explanations are provided.

The most intriguing aspect of WandaVision is how it sets up Wanda’s future in the MCU. The implications are major, and if you’re a fan of the universe, you will feel the potential ramifications of the show’s ending ripple throughout your mind more quickly than a snap of Thanos’ fingers.

Personally, I enjoyed the show, but it’s not my favorite outing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not something I will go out of my way to rewatch. That said, I heartily appreciate what the show set out to accomplish. It went for something new, and I think it largely succeeded.

Besides, I love campiness and I love super heroes, and WandaVision has both in spades.

I rate WandaVision a bewitching-good-time-that-spells-an-interesting-future-for-the-MCU.

Who Watched the Watchmen?

I schedule my posts in advance, so I get a nice overview of what my published pieces will look like as they roll out. And I’ve got to say, I’ve been focusing a lot on the Movie/TV category lately. Sorry about that if you stick around for the book stuff or the video game stuff. People told me I should have the blog revolve around a specific thing instead of just going all over the place, but can I help it that I like movies, books, and video games almost equally?!

Anyways, today I thought I’d talk about Watchmen.

It is by far my all-time favorite graphic novel. I first read it when I was way too young for the content, and I remember purchasing the copy almost clandestinely. I don’t think my parents realized how mature comic books could be. I was around seven or eight years old when my dad handed The Sandman to me (which he had received from a friend who did not know my dad wasn’t into comics). And that graphic novel contains some of the most rated-R scenes I’ve ever seen. People stabbed their own eyes out, engaged in a sexual romp with more than four people participating, and admitted to necrophilia, all in one issue.

Anyways, Watchmen appealed to me for multiple reasons, not just because it felt like forbidden fruit. Even at a young age, I could tell that this story was game-changing. It deconstructed super hero tropes while simultaneously telling a gripping tale about the kinds of psyches that would have to participate in such caped crusades.

Side note: I wrote my college thesis on Watchmen’s deconstruction of these tropes and how it features multiple binary oppositions to do so.

When the Zack Snyder film came out in 2009, it was me and six other guys in the theater for the midnight premiere. It was the least-packed premiere I’ve ever particpated in, but you’ve got to appreciate the one man who came into the theater with a “The End Is Nigh” sign.

I enjoyed the movie, but my enjoyment largely came from the fact that the film was practically a frame-by-frame reconstruction of the graphic novel (with a few massive changes due to moviegoer considerations). This movie tiptoed around the original source material, a copy too afraid to alter what wasn’t broken.

In 2019, HBO released a TV series based on the graphic novel as well. It was not a recreation of the story like the 2009 film, but instead would be a continuation of the story, set in the same universe as the events of the comic. When I first heard about it, I was steeped in doubt, yet excitement still brewed within me.

And I’m happy to report that the HBO series exceeded my expectations, doing Watchmen, and what it set out to accomplish, proud.

Written by Damon Lindelof, this new series clearly grasps what Alan Moore did with the original work. Lindelof understands the spirit of Watchmen, perhaps more fully than Snyder. Lindelof took bold risks with the direction of the story, but these risks paid off because instead of telling yet another kick-ass superhero tale, he used the plot to deconstruct these tropes, along with several societal evils.

The original Watchmen spent just as much time pulling the curtain down on superheroes as it did exposing societal mores that are no longer relevant (or are too widely accepted despite being an ill that plagues human connection). Alan Moore focused on the terrors of Reaganism and the fallacies of that era. The HBO series centralizes on a more current cultural context, focusing on racial violence. It exposes this societal evil that still plagues the world today, and leaves viewers with a message that is not easily forgotten by the time the final episode concludes.

Now, this isn’t going to be a show I summarize or spoil. I’ve noticed a pattern in my posts; if I truly love a movie beyond just a normal appreciation, I’m more reluctant to detail the plot as I want you to watch it with fresh eyes.

So the most I want to tell you guys about the HBO Watchmen series is that there was nothing I didn’t like about it. I am almost inexpressibly pleased with it.

I think it’s a shame (an understandable one, but a shame nonetheless) that Alan Moore no longer expresses an interest in adaptations of his work. He has been burned many times by people butchering his graphic novels, turning complex and challenging stories into flashy pop fiction. But Lindelof has shown that he knows what made the original Watchmen tick.

I rate HBO’s Watchmen a jaw-dropping-series-that-captured-everything-I-loved-about-the-original-graphic-novel-and-turned-it-into-a-telling-deconstruction-of-our-times-that-will-stay-with-me-forever.

Madoka Magica Madness

My Dungeons & Dragons group has movie nights on occasion. It started as a way to just hang out during the pandemic. We’d hop onto Discord, pick a bad movie, and just press play at the same time. We’ve gone through Kung Fu Hustle, Mortal Kombat, and Spaceballs.

One day, I don’t recall how, but the subject of anime was brought up, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica was mentioned in the conversation.

Side note: From here on out, whenever I reference this anime, I’m just going to call it Madoka Magica.

I had never heard of it before, and neither had the majority of our party. Only two had seen it, one of them being our usual Dungeon Master, Sidney. He immediately volunteered the series as our next watch on movie night. In its favor was the fact that it was only twelve episodes long, and it was on Netflix.

Honestly, I’m not a big anime person. Often, anime series are huge time investments because the good ones have massive amounts of manga chapters to follow. I have bought a few manga volumes, notably Death Note, Fruits Basket, and Naruto. But I haven’t even made the leap to watching their anime all the way through to their conclusions.

As such, I had no idea what to expect from Madoka Magica.

Let me tell you, while it is not the most disturbing anime out there, it is definitely shocking for the genre it is commenting upon.

The “magical girl” genre is a popular one, and it basically involves a select group of girls who are granted magical powers, transform into their badass selves, and then whup evil’s ass. Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura are perfect examples of this.

Madoka Magica seeks to dismantle the tropes you commonly see in a magical girl anime. The toll the girls must accept for gaining powers is insane. The monsters they face are deadly, and, as it turns out, their transformations come at a heinous cost.

So what started as a lighthearted, girlish adventure turned into this universe-ending shock-fest. Sidney, who had already seen the series, spent half his time watching our faces on the computer screen so he could see our reactions. And we were totally engrossed. We stayed up well after midnight guzzling each episode with our eyes.

I won’t necessarily recommend Madoka Magica to you, my Above Average Readers, because I’m not sure what you’d think of it. To prove my point, two of our D&D party members just refused to watch the series (Mia and Dalton). One because she had seen it already and been disturbed by the plot twists, and the other because he refuses to watch anime that deconstruct themselves.

I will, however, say that if you want one hell of a hellish time and you enjoy a bite-sized anime every so often, then Madoka Magica should be perfect for you.

I Was a Soundtrack Kid: How Music Defined My Movies

Growing up, I always felt a step behind other kids when it came to being “hip” and “cool.” When portable CD players were coming out, I had nothing. When MP3 players came out, I had just gotten a CD player. When iPods came out, I was showing off my brand-new MP3 player.

You get the idea.

To make the stark contrast between me and other kids even starker, I did not hold any of the latest pop songs within my music devices. Instead, I had a love for movie soundtracks.

I swear, I listened to soundtracks all the time as a kid.

And while my taste in musical genres has expanded, to this day, I adore a good movie score.

Side note: That sick rhyme was totally unintentional.

My all-time favorite soundtrack composers were/are John Williams, Howard Shore, and Danny Elfman.

John Williams is one of the most prolific movie soundtrack composers ever, responsible for classic movie themes that everyone recognizes. He’s done Star Wars, Superman, Harry Potter, and Jaws. If you think about it, he’s probably composed the background music to a lot of your movie fantasies. You know, when you picture yourself as a Jedi or a student at Hogwarts? That’s John Williams’ song playing as your imagination runs wild.

Howard Shore did the soundtrack for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I may not have a bead on his other work, but by god, I know his talent from those three films alone. Elves, Rohan, Gondor, hobbits, and the Mines of Moria all had their own unique themes thanks to Shore.

Danny Elfman is most often associated with director Tim Burton since he composed a lot of the soundtracks to some of Burton’s most iconic films. He did Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare before Christmas. Elfman’s devious melodies often accompanied me on long car drives.

I made it a mission in life to try and collect albums of their work so that my everyday life could feel ten times more awesome as I hummed along to their tunes.

When I first started listening to soundtracks, I enjoyed them for the reminders they gave me of my favorite parts in movies. I’d listen to “Love Pledge and the Arena” from Attack of the Clones over and over again because I liked it when all the clone troopers came to rescue the Jedi on Geonosis.

I got crazy good at recognizing the times a track would play in a film. I would astonish and bemuse my parents by reenacting scenes from movies while playing the movie’s soundtrack on our communal CD player.

But then my love for these tracks branched away from just fond memories of the time they appeared in the film. I grew to enjoy the emotional beats I could find in the melodies, separate from the moments they accompanied in the movie. I had a love of playing with toys and creating epics sagas with my action figures back then, so I started playing movie soundtracks in the background while I played with them, applying the songs to my own stories.

Side note: You would not believe the depth of my toy Diplodocus’ sense of betrayal when Spider-Man refused to save his village. I had “Duel of the Fates” playing when this happened.

These days, video game soundtracks have joined my collection of music source material. I’m not as fond of television themes in general, but Game of Thrones is a huge exception to that.

I still use soundtracks to accompany my “stories,” but not with my dramatic toy playtime. Whenever I’m writing, whether for work or for my own fiction, soundtracks are one of the major sources of inspiration I use when crafting emotional moments.

I also have a more discerning ear when it comes to finding tracks I like when watching a film. It’s far rarer for me to find something I prefer these days, but I make do.

New additions to my roster of favorite composers include Ramin Djawadi, Michael Giacchino, and Mick Gordon.

Djawadi did the music for Game of Thrones so you have him to thank for getting that opening credits theme song stuck in your head. He’s also done the soundtrack for Westworld, which has its own collection of fantastic melodies.

Giacchino is the man behind a shit-ton of Pixar film soundtracks. The Incredibles? That was him. Up? That was also him. Giacchino crafted some heckin’ awesome tracks for the Speed Racer movie too, and as anyone who knows me should know by now, that’s one of my favorite movies.

Mick Gordon is the understated genius behind the Doom soundtrack. Though there is currently a controversy going on regarding his music for Doom Eternal, that does not change the fact that I adore his work, and I think Bethesda and id Software did him dirty.

Side note: I am totally not biased.

Soundtracks capture emotion in a way that few songs can. See, soundtracks are meant to accompany a story; that’s what they were created for. So they can follow along with a plot’s ups and downs. They’re perhaps the most transporting type of music you can listen to.

For me, they are a mild form of escapism for my day-to-day life, especially during stressful times.

And given the state the world is in, I think we could all benefit from taking a breath and listening to a good soundtrack.

Top 5 Favorite TV Shows

I’m not a television person. Growing up, we didn’t have cable in my house, so my sister and I would only watch shows and stuff on weekends when we would go and visit my tias (aunts) and tata (grandpa).

As such, I’ve seen bits and pieces of a ton of shows, but I haven’t actually committed to finishing most of them. Practically none of them at all. Even to this day, I’ll watch a bit of a show on Netflix, and then just lose interest.

That said, there are a few television shows that shot their way into my heart despite my initial inclination to ditch the medium.

So let’s get into them, shall we?

5) Rick and Morty

Yeah, I like Rick and Morty. As does the rest of the world. I jumped on this hype train when I was visiting a friend of mine, Irma. She’s one of my friends from elementary/middle/high school. Her boyfriend was showing a bunch of us his favorite episodes, and I was just so taken with the style of humor and the zany premise of an interdimensional scientist with severe alcoholism taking his grandson on adventures. The show captured me, and I consume every episode whenever the latest season comes out.

4) Avatar: The Last Airbender

I promise, this list won’t be just cartoons. But yeah, the majority of them will be. Don’t dismiss Avatar: The Last Airbender just because it is an animated kids show though. Quality storytelling leaped from episode to episode, beyond the typical formula you normally see in a cartoon. The characters grow and develop (Zuko’s character arc is one of the best in television history), and the world they inhabit is marvelous. Inspiration was clearly taken from real cultures, but they were combined with a universe in which bending elements is possible and fantastical creatures exist.

3) Stranger Things

Granted, this show isn’t complete yet, so the fourth season could come along and ruin the whole series. But even with only the three seasons Stranger Things has given me, I’m confident in calling it one of my favorite shows. I saw the first episode at my sister’s house before I had to travel 500 miles and return home. That very day, I literally exited the car, got inside my living room, turned on the TV, and resumed watching. I was that hooked. I’m a huge Stephen King fan, so the mystery and horror of Stranger Things appealed to every cell in my body. It was simply “my type” of show, and I’d never really felt that with any other show prior to that. (By the way, this is the part where you guys recommend shows to me that are similar that will catch my interest!)

2) Game of Thrones

Even with the way the series ended, I still say Game of Thrones is my second favorite show of all time. I think people have too easily forgotten the years of quality television the show provided to its viewers before the series finale came out. No matter how it ended, those top-notch moments we all know and love still exist. Ned Stark’s beheading, Daenerys emerging from the fire, the Red Wedding, Arya’s transformation, Theon’s character development, the revelation of Hodor’s name. Game of Thrones still gave us all of that. Just because the last season left me feeling less than satisfied doesn’t take away the fond memories I have for the series. Plus, I’ve always felt that television shows, more than movies, are a case of it’s-the-journey-not-the-destination.

1) SpongeBob SquarePants (Seasons 1-3)

Laugh all you want, but SpongeBob SquarePants is my all-time, favorite comfort show. I caught every episode I could whenever I visited my tias’ house, bought the DVDs for my house, and can quote the best lines to this day. I even know most episode names. Of course, this mostly applies to those first three seasons. Those are the heyday of SpongeBob’s time on television, and I’ll stand by that. Some might call the series childish and stupid, but by golly, the humor in SpongeBob always felt to me like FUN. If you ever wanted to win me over, you either have to know some quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or SpongeBob SquarePants. Nothing more and nothing less.

Lose a Coin to Your Witcher: The Witcher Season 1 Review

I wanted to like The Witcher.

I really did.

I swear, I was the stereotypical PTSD Game of Thrones viewer who was looking for something to fill the massive hole in my life since Daenerys burned down King’s Landing. I expected Netflix’s latest series, The Witcher, to fill that gap.

It did not, to say the least.

I had to force myself to watch the entire season because with each passing episode I became more and more dissatisfied with it. I found myself actively waiting for good moments, suffering through endless parts that made me grit my teeth in annoyance.

I mean, I thought the 3rd and 7th episodes were great, but the rest…

I’m a huge fantasy fan, but The Witcher did not tick me off because it was a fantasy story. It was just a terribly-told story, in my below average opinion.

That’s where the blame for my irritation with the show lies, the storytelling/writing aspect. The acting was as good as it could be, and I thoroughly enjoyed the fight scenes.

If you haven’t seen the show, by all means, watch it for yourself and form your own opinion. As for me, I’m about to rail against the four things that brought my esteem for The Witcher so low.

The Confusing Timeline of the Narrative

Normally, I adore time jumps. Flashbacks, flashforwards. Bring ’em on, I say! Christopher Nolan, do your worst.

But The Witcher’s gaggle of timelines left me reeling.

These disparate storylines set in varying times were confusing and unclear. Unless you had a prior understanding for how the story was going to be told, the jumps from one narrative to the next were not intuitive at all.

This is largely because there is no real indication of when the story is set in a different time beyond what characters tell you. Geralt and Yennefer, at some point, just stop aging, so there is no real way to indicate how many years have passed since you saw them in previous episodes.

For example, after Yennefer gleefully obtains a position at Aedirn, the next episode shows her dissatisfied with her position there. And beyond what she says about having been at court for so long, you never actually saw her progress from happy with this position to unhappy with it.

I understand why it’s needed for the show. The creators clearly wanted to tell a certain story, and in order to get to it, they needed characters to have a bit of background without lingering on it for too long. Geralt and Ciri need to find each other at the end, so the whole course of events that lead to that moment have to be shown while simultaneously maintaining an audience’s interest.

But if they were focusing on story elements that they believed mattered, they sacrificed so much to get there. These narrative time jumps, while they do the trick of setting up these “shock value” moments when you realize how the plot puzzle pieces fit together, end up feeling incredibly forced.

Character Development

When Ned Stark died, you cared.


Because Game of Thrones spent nine whole episodes building up the kind of man he was, the kind of honor he carried within him, so that when you saw him executed, you felt it in your gut. You were shocked. Horrified. Bereaved even.

Did you care when Borch “died” in Episode 6 of The Witcher?



Because you only met the man in that episode.

Geralt himself had only met the man in that episode, so when Borch purportedly fell to his death, Geralt’s horror-stricken expression feels completely undeserved.

True, Geralt is a good person, so that’s probably why he cares.

But as a remote viewer, there is no reason in the world for you to care what happens to Borch.

Thus lies the second problem besetting The Witcher. For all the time-jumping the narrative does, not enough time is spent in character moments. These moments could be incredibly small, but they’re needed to make you care. Geralts is who he is from the start of the show to the end of it, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a tad irksome when you’re trying to connect with a show that’s set in a fantasy world.

It’s already difficult to find something to relate to with a man who is a mutant monster hunter. You know what I mean?

The one character who gets you to care is, funnily enough, Jaskier. He shows up enough times, spreads his humor around Geralt’s surliness like flowers, and sings great catchy songs, so that when his life is imperiled by the djinn, you as a viewer have that, “Oh shit, what’s going to happen to him” moment.

But other characters fail to have their moments.

Take Yennefer as another example. On the surface, you care about her struggle to get power, to escape her past as a deformed and powerless hunchback. But absolutely no time is spent developing her desire to have children, so when she begins to act on her wish to have one, it leaves viewers a little nonplussed. It doesn’t feel like she wants one. In fact, Yennefer has to state that she does for viewers to know she does.

Which leads me to my other grievance with the show…

Show Don’t Tell

“Show don’t tell” is an age-old writing adage that illustrates the necessity of drawing in your readers to conclusions instead of just shoving it in their faces.

The Witcher fails at this completely.

More times than I can count, the show freakin’ just tells you what’s what instead of showing you.

Understandably, the show has a time limit, and it needs to get its story across as much as possible within that time. But if your story can’t be shown to viewers, it has to be told, then there is something wrong with the way you’re conveying the narrative.

The perfect example of this is when the Law of Surprise is first mentioned. The character of Duny shows up in Cintra to profess his love for (and his claim to) Pavetta.

He then embarks on telling this tale of how he saved Pavetta’s father’s life long ago, and in repayment for his actions, the King granted Duny this (stupid) Law of Surprise.

Side note: For those of you who don’t know, the Law of Surprise is this thing where you can just be “Surprise, bitch! Give me something to pay back the debt you owed me.”

When this happened, I wanted to scream.

Duny is freaking telling us very important plot points to our faces instead of, I don’t know, having us see him save Pavetta’s dad’s life?!

Before this episode, we had never met Duny. All we know about him is what is told about him and what he tells us. The episode where he is introduced is like a wormhole of show-don’t-tell mistakes that you can get lost in.

But the entire show suffers from this malady. Too many times are things explained instead of shown.

Let’s take a look at Game of Thrones one more time.

During the first part of the show, you hear the term “Valyrian steel” dropped more than once. It’s not initially told to viewers what Valyrian steel is, but you get the idea that it is very valuable. Swords made of the stuff carry extra value and seem rare.

Later, it’s dropped that Valyria is the place where dragons came from.

After that, it is revealed that Valyrian steel swords were forged using dragon fire.

Even further after that, it is shown that Valyrian steel can be used to kill White Walkers.

These revelations happened over the course of five seasons. It wasn’t just an info dump done in a single episode.

The Exact Rules of Magic

The price of using magic in the world of The Witcher is initially made very clear. During a lesson that Yennefer attends, young mages are shown trying to levitate a rock. When a girl succeeds at this, her hand withers and drys in front of them. Their instructor then reminds them that magic comes at a cost. She advises the students to pick up flowers on the desk before attempting to move the rock. Once the flower is in their hands, when the students lift the rocks, the flowers wither instead of their hands.

Simple, right? Magic uses energy, and you have to give an appropriate amount or else it will take a lot from you.

But immediately after that episode, the cost of using magic is never mentioned much again or adhered to in any fashion.

Yennefer creates portals to other countries without losing so much as a fingertip.

A sorceress is able to kill a group of men with a gesture, and all she gets is a bloody nose.

Another mage moves a fog around over a wide space, and I guess that fog came at a hefty cost, ’cause he just keeled over and died.

There is no explanation for why magic works the way it does.

Maybe I have been spoiled by the Harry Potter and Eragon series, but I very much like it when there are rules to how magic works.

I prefer the rules for spells to be spelled out.

In The Witcher, magic does what it does seemingly for the sake of the plot.

Concluding Thoughts

I feel like I’m the only one who got massively annoyed by The Witcher, and I don’t know why it’s bothered me so much. The last time I got this peeved at something I watched, I had just seen The Crimes of Grindelwald. (Huh, maybe bad stories with unexplained magic are my Achilles heel.)

But in case you liked it despite my tirade against it, don’t worry. You’re definitely not alone. I have friends ready to figuratively die to defend it.

Plus, I enjoyed the hell out of The Rise of Skywalker, so who am I to judge someone for liking The Witcher. This is yet another example of how diverse everyone’s tastes are.

I rate the first season of The Witcher an I’m-still-going-to-watch-it-because-I-desperately-need-another-fantasy-show-in-my-life-but-I’m-not-particularly-thrilled-about-having-to-sit-through-more-contrived-plot-devices-so-here’s-hoping-the-next-season-is-better-narratively-speaking-or-includes-enough-sword-fights-and-naked-Geralt-to-hold-me-over.

Warp Drives, Klingons, and Awkward Female Interactions: The Star Trek Franchise For Newbies

My friend Mia is the bigger Star Trek fan between the two of us. She was the one who introduced me to it first, starting with the original series. We then watched those new J.J. Abrams films, and my exploration of the Star Trek universe only expanded from there.

However, it might be hard for the average person who hasn’t gotten into Star Trek yet to try giving it a whirl. The size of the series can be daunting to newcomers. After all, it spans across television shows, movies, comics, novels, video games, etc. You name the genre, and Star Trek has probably already been there.

Plus, I will admit, it is a bit of an acquired taste. Such concentrated dosages of sci-fi nerdiness aren’t for everyone.

But for those of you straddling the fence right now, here’s just a few things you should know about getting into Star Trek, both the good and the bad!


The main draw for me is the campiness. If you don’t like exaggerated humor or drama, then many of the main Star Trek shows of yore won’t appeal to you.

I for one happen to love the meatball monsters that teleport crew members from their starships onto planetray arenas so that they can battle with an ancient Genghis Khan with Abraham Lincoln by their side.

That music that starts blaring out whenever anybody gets into an absurd fistfight is also imprinted indelibly upon my memory. By the by, the combat is campy too. Conflict is supposed to be super dramatic in the original series, but it just ends up being an experience of futility as you try to stop yourself from snorting in derision so much.

Please be aware that this is meant to sell you on Star Trek,not deter you from it.

There’s something inherently delightful in how aged the show appears to be in all aspects. Simply by drawing you in and making you laugh, the show succeeds in some manner.

Another great thing about the franchise as a whole is its devotion to including as many futurstic devices as it can into the story. Warp engines, phasers, tricorders, holodecks, they’re all unbelievably fantastical.

It’s all so technologically unsound, it’s laughable.

Speaking of laughs, the humor is also crazy hilarious. Conversations that are supposed to be funny follow that “dad” kind of humor, to varying degrees of success. You end up laughing at their attempt to make you laugh more than at the actual joke.

But every so often, when the show is trying to shove that theme of the indomitability of the human spirit in your face, it just…works. Kirk or Picard talking about nobility and compassion just makes you feel uplifted, and you have to actually remind yourself that you’re supposed to be watching this silly sci-fi show just for kicks.

And that’s one of the main reasons why I’d recommend Star Trek. At its core, pushing aside the frivolities and inanities for the moment, it’s about exploring the depths of human nature’s capacity for good. And a show about that can’t be all bad, right?


With space travel occurring in the series on a figurative daily basis, you would think that meeting new aliens would be the highlight of the show.

You’d be wrong.

Only a few of the aliens in the Star Trek series are what you would call classic or iconic. Klingons, Vulcans, Tribbles, and the Borg are a tiny fraction of all the aliens you encounter in the franchise. The rest are either ridiculous, forgettable, or insulting.

I get that budgets were tight back in the earlier shows, but some of these alien designs are beyond absurd. They look like toys you could buy in a dollar store glued together.

So if your story revolves around meeting new alien species and 80% of those species are terrible additions to the universe, you’ve kind of got a bit of a problem.

Another issue is plot resolution. Often, the crew of whatever starship or space station you are on will find themselves in dire circumstances. It’s only thanks to a last-minute solution that they make it out okay. But these solutions are always whatever makes the most dramatic sense. Logic goes out the window. If you need to rescue a stranded colony and your transporter is malfunctioning, god forbid you use the life boats or other smaller vessels at your disposal to pick them up. Let’s just turn the whole thing into a crisis.

And oof, its portrayal of women.

In the early shows (I’m talking the original, The Next Generation, maybe even Deep Space Nine, etc.), they’re all incredibly misogynistic. If the women aren’t background characters, they’re usually eye candy. And other characters (of the male variety) won’t let you forget that.

Attractive females in Star Trek are constantly being complimented about their looks. It’s insane. Plus, you can always tell when they’re trying to imply Kirk is having some kind of magnetic moment with a lady. The music changes, the frickin’ lighting changes, and the stares that’ll pass between the two are anything but subtle.

If you bite the bullet and watch those early shows, you’ll know what I mean.


As I write this, I’m sitting by a coffee table, tip-tapping away at my laptop while Next Generation plays comfortably in front of me on the television. The wind is blowing away outside, adding an extra chill to the autumn air, and I have a cup of warmth next to me in the form of green tea, lemon, and honey.

I have nothing pressing to attend to.

At this moment, Star Trek is absolutely perfect for my mood. It’s mild entertainment for a quiet time, filled with poignancy and stupidity in equal measure.

Which, now that I think about it, is kind of like real life.

I rate Star Trek a live-long-and-prosper.

Some Crazy-Ex Appreciation

Last time I wrote about a television show, it was about Game of Thrones, and we all know how that went.

After that particular roller coaster, I wasn’t sure how I felt about tackling a television show again. TV series are such a commitment. You invest a lot more time and energy when watching and reviewing a show than when you review a movie.

But after finishing up the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I knew I had to talk about it at some point. ‘Cause goddamn that show is subtly amazing. It’s like a sleeper hit show.

So this post is about giving some appreciation to a series that I think has gone underappreciated by the masses.

I got introduced to Crazy Ex by a friend of mine, one Andreya of TotesAndreya fame. A few years ago, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was all she talked about. She was avidly watching the show, claiming she felt personally attacked by the depiction of the main character, but loving every minute of it. She would play the songs from the show (it’s kind of a musical) in the car all the time. She highly recommended I watch it, and I eventually took her up on that.

Side note: Depending on the person who recommends something to me and how they recommend it determines whether or not I’ll actually give it a try. But once I decide I’m trying it, I damn well try it.

I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the title because it sounded too much like a rom-com, made-for-TV movie, but the show stuck some dynamite in the mouth of my expectations and blew me away. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is supremely self-aware, and if there’s one thing I appreciate in my shows and my friends, it’s self-awareness.

At first, Crazy Ex seems like a campy, corny comedy-romance that you catch on the CW all the time. But underneath that campiness is a scathing wit,and under the wit is heart, the willingness to bare the soul of a story.

Plus, it’s essentially a musical. And who doesn’t love musicals?

The premise of the show is wince-inducing. Main character Rebecca makes this decision to drop everything in her life to try rekindling something with an ex-boyfriend, even though he lives on the other side of the country and already has a girlfriend. What ensues is nothing short of cringe-worthy as Rebecca abases herself and puts herself in these embarassing situations all to win her ex’s favor. I’m telling you, this shit was more cringey than the Scott’s Tots episode of The Office.

But the show, by increasing degrees, starts getting real. It morphs from this cutesy romantic-comedy with a dash of zaniness to a clever and uncompromising look at mental health and character growth.

And when I say character growth, I don’t just mean that the characters on the show grow, though yes, that does happen. What I mean is that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend features a story that is all about what it means to grow as a person, what it means to develop your own character.

It’s hard work, and it’s a lifelong project, but the rewards are self-evident.

I did not expect to like Crazy Ex as much as I did. Now, I’m recommending it to my family, listening to the soundtrack as I work, and lining up to see panels about it at Comic Con.

So while Game of Thrones might have been a show that took up a great deal of my life with how much I loved it, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend changed my life. Yes, that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. It changed my outlook on certain ideas is all.

I rate it a must-watch-for-anyone-who-has-ever-felt-trapped-by-their-own-personality-and-is-looking-to-have-a-good-laugh-about-the-fact-while-simultaneously-confronting-it.