Author: Michael Cook

A theatre kid dabbling in the art of reviewing the things he reads, watches, listens to, and sees.

A Note About the Doctor Who S10E11 (World Enough and Time) review

I’m not reviewing this week’s Doctor Who. It will be reviewed next week so I can review both parts of the story at once. World Enough and Time is very much the first half of one whole story and I’d rather wait to review it until I know how the story ends. Unlike other episodes in this season, World Enough and Time isn’t a stand-alone episode. The Monk trilogy were three episodes that told complete stories but were also connected. World Enough and Time doesn’t tell a complete story, so I’d rather wait for The Doctor Falls so I can review the entire story.

Do You Believe? (American Gods S01E08 – “Come to Jesus” Review)

am godAfter last week’s less than stellar episode, American Gods is back with another strong, engaging episode. And just in time, too, as it’s the season finale. And, boy, it’s quite an epic one. All the various plot threads of the season come together in one big cluster as it all leads to the house of the goddess Easter. In Come to Jesus, written by Bekah Brunstetter, Bryan Fuller, and Michael Green and directed by Floria Sigismondi, it’s the eve of war and Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) must recruit one more Old God: Ostara, ne Easter, Goddess of the Dawn (Kristen Chenoweth), but winning her over will require making a good impression, and that is where Mr. Nancy (Orlando Jones) comes in. (As always, this review will contain spoilers, so read ahead at your own risk.)  (more…)

A Light in the Dark (Doctor Who S10E10 “The Eaters of Light” Review)

The Eaters of LightThe early previews for this episode made it sound a lot worse than it actually was. Is it the greatest episode of Doctor Who ever? No. But there is quite a bit to like, and on the whole, it’s rather good. Not the best episode this season, but still a very good one. In The Eaters of Light, written by Rona Munro and directed by Charles Palmer, A hunt for the lost Ninth Roman Legion leads the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole into the middle of an ancient battle that could cast humanity into the dark forever. What is inside the cairn? And how far will they have to go defeat the terrifying alien Eaters of Light? (As always, this review will contain spoilers. So, if you haven’t seen the episode, don’t read this until you have.)  (more…)

One Town, Many Versions (Welcome to Night Vale, Year 5 review)

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Fanart made with the official cover for the podcast and fanart by SunnyClockwork

Season five of Welcome to Night Vale will fondly be remembered as the season that Night Vale really just went for it. It began normally enough, but by the end of the season we were in multiple timelines and realities and it was just all kinds of fun. Season five of Welcome to Night Vale finally answers the question of “Who is Huntokar?” and begins to explain some of the odd timeline occurrences throughout the series. As the barriers between alternate Night Vales begin to break down, Cecil and all of Night Vale try to grapple with their new reality. What is causing this to happen? Can it be fixed? Will things ever be the same?

Honestly, I think this season of Night Vale is probably my favorite season to date. Almost every episode is a really strong one, with a few exceptions, of course. This season continues the arc of Hiram McDaniels’ execution by introducing his sister, Hadassah McDaniels, and an array of other dragons who have come to Night Vale in order to secure the release of Hiram (as human laws should not apply to dragons, in their eyes). Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly go as planned as Hiram breaks out of jail, his Violet head being killed by Sheriff Sam in the process. Hadassah, naturally, is enraged by this, and her and the dragons destroy much of Night Vale – but, let’s be real, how often is most of Night Vale destroyed only for it to not be destroyed again by the next episode? This is a fun plotline, but, really, all of the plotlines around Hiram are usually pretty fun, and this is no exception.

Meanwhile, Old Woman Josie’s health has continued to rapidly deteriorate. Her daughter, Alondra, reluctantly comes to town to take care of her. Throughout the first half of the season, we learn more about Old Woman Josie’s past, which makes her death later in the season all the more tragic. The worst part is how mundane it is. She doesn’t die by some odd supernatural event or anything; she just dies of old age. And it’s sad, and the episode when it happens is sad. Cecil sounds so defeated. From there on, the season follows the angels as they try to obtain legal recognition as beings from the government so they can inherit what Josie wanted to leave them. Alondra fights against this, though, as Josie left no will/nothing written stating that the angels were to get anything at all. This, too, is a fun plotline. It’s nice having the angels take a more active role in the story than they have in the past. It’s all too sad how realistic their struggle to gain recognition from the government is, and it’s a clever bit of social satire that Fink and Cranor deliver through it.

On the romance front, Cecil and Carlos finally get married!  In the 100th episode of the series, fans were surprised by an episode that featured every voiced character that had ever appeared in Night Vale all gathering together to celebrate the wedding of Cecil and Carlos. Before this episode, the series had made no hints that a marriage was imminent. No announcement of a proposal from either character, no discussion about weddings at all. It was a wonderful surprise and a wonderful episode. There’s something so pure and joyful when Cecil refers to Carlos as his husband. I just love them both so much and I’m so happy the show decided to have them get married.

The other major plotline is the resolution of the Huntokar story. Huntokar was introduced in season 1 as the god of the civilization underneath the bowling alley. As season five progressed, Huntokar kept appearing in various episodes, leading up to the revelation that the civilization underneath the bowling alley was actually an alternate Night Vale, and Huntokar was the cause of its destruction. We learn that Huntokar actually created Night Vale – and she is a God, along with the Glow Cloud, the Distant Prince, and the Woman From Italy. In 1983, when Nulogorsk underwent that nuclear test, both the US and Nulogorsk thought it was real, and blew each other up. Huntokar wanted to protect Night Vale, her creation, so she pulled it out of the timeline, and in doing so caused all the timelines in Night Vale to collapse. For years, she was able to keep Night Vale mostly balanced and okay, but after the events of the past few years, the balance was off and all the Night Vales were combining into each other and falling apart, causing all of those timeline oddities (like Cecil having a brother yet not remembering said brother). I won’t spoil how it ends, but it’s pretty rad, and I’m really interested in seeing where Night Vale goes from here.

Overall, season five of Welcome to Night Vale was awesome. Fink and Cranor really pushed the boundaries on what the show is and what it could do, and it resulted in a really strong, cohesive, and enjoyable season of this podcast. Their characters continue to be interesting and unique and fully developed, and the world building that this season underwent brought both a sense of clarity and even more mystery to the town itself. It’s really just a wonderful season of a wonderful podcast and I’m looking forward to all that will happen next season.

I give Year Five of Welcome to Night Vale five out of five wands.

Gallifrey Lies (Doctor Who – A Brief History of Time Lords, by Steve Tribe – Review)

34994671I enjoy when spin-off books are written as though they exist in the universe of the thing they’re spin-offs of (ie: the Hogwarts Library textbooks). Steve Tribe writes A Brief History of Time Lords from the point of view of the young boy that the Twelfth Doctor meets at the end of Heaven Sent. This boy grew up and went on to write an “unofficial” history of his planet and people that contained unofficial and forbidden knowledge. It’s a fun concept that’s executed fairly well. The big question with books like this is if they contain enough new material to make it worthwhile, or if they’re just a collection of older material crammed together into one thing so it can be sold for more money. A Brief History of Time Lords kind of fits into both categories. But, at least, it’s enjoyable. (more…)

Luck of the Irish (American Gods S01E07 “A Prayer for Mad Sweeney” review)

2560x14401Well, we were bound to encounter a less than stellar episode eventually, and A Prayer for Mad Sweeney is that episode. It’s certainly not bad; in fact, it’s very enjoyable and if it were placed anywhere else besides as the penultimate episode of the season, it would raise from less-than-stellar to good. The problem is that this episode is essentially one long detour from the main plotline right before the season finale. It’s a great story that’s well told, but placing the episode this close to the finale was a mistake. Written by Maria Melnik (and Michael Green and Bryan Fuller) and directed by Adam Kane, A Prayer for Mad Sweeney tells the story of how Mad Sweeney came to America. After her reunion with Shadow (Ricky Whittle) ends far too quickly, Laura (Emily Browning) turns to an unlikely travel companion to find her way back to life, and back to Shadow. Mad Sweeney’s (Pablo Schreiber) long, winding, and often tragic past is explored. (As always, this episode will feature spoilers. You have been warned.)  (more…)

God Save the Queen (Doctor Who S10E09 “Empress of Mars” review)

Doctor Who S10 Ep9 The Empress of MarsWhat happens when a new NASA probe discovers a curious message on the surface of Mars? Well, naturally the Doctor and Bill have to go investigate it, which is exactly what happens in Empress of Mars. Written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Wayne Yip, Empress of Mars follows the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas) as they explore Mars after finding “God Save the Queen” written on the surface of the planet. What they discover is rather unexpected: there are Victorian soldiers on Mars. How is this possible? Unwittingly, they awaken Iraxxa, the Ice Queen (Adele Lynch), from her five millennia slumber, leading to an ultimate showdown between two of the most stubborn races ever: Victorian soldiers vs. the Ice Warriors. (As always, this review will contain spoilers. You’ve been warned!) (more…)

Welcome to a World of Gods and Monsters (The Mummy 2017 Review)

mv5bnjfjndiwntktmdy1my00zme3lwe0n2itmwm2zjazymrkndfmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndg2mjuxnjm-_v1_sy1000_cr006311000_al_I’m not quite sure what people were expecting this movie to be, to be honest. It was never advertised as a horror movie or a thriller, so I’m not sure why people were expecting scares/thrills. I mean, the original monster movies would barely classify as horror anymore. They’re more Gothic film than anything else. The trailers for this pitched it as an action/adventure movie involving Tom Cruise getting cursed and bringing a mummy back to life and Jekyll running some secret organization dedicated to finding and eradicating evil, and that’s exactly what we got. The Mummy (directed by Alex Kurtzman from a script by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman), follows soldier/thief Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) as he accidentally unearths the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), releases her, and ends up cursed. Together with Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), Nick has to work with Prodigium, an organization led by the mysterious Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), to find a way to break the curse and stop Princess Ahmanet from using Nick as a sacrifice to resurrect the Egyptian god Set. (There may be some mild spoilers ahead, so read with caution.)  (more…)

Gerard Way’s Still Got it! (Doom Patrol, Volume 1 “Brick by Brick” Review)

61vh2bl7xglIt’s been quite some time since Gerad Way has published any kind of ongoing comic series. The last one he did was The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, co-written with Shaun Simon, and that was back in 2013. So, the world of comics was in need of his return. He’d been teasing the third volume of The Umbrella Academy for years now, and it was beginning to look like we’d never see another ongoing series from him again. Then came DC’s announcement of the Young Animal imprint, spearheaded by Way himself. Along with the imprint would be his first ongoing series in ages, a reboot of Doom Patrol. The big question is: was his return to comics worth the wait? Answer: yes. In volume 1 of Doom Patrol, Way reintroduces readers to the unconventional team of heroes through the lens of Casey Brinke, an EMS driver who is drawn into a series of weird circumstances when she finds the broken body of Robotman. Casey and the other members of the team must outwit a bunch of aliens who want control of a magic, sentient van that can create life. So, basically, it’s a pretty typical subject matter for a Gerard Way comic.  (more…)

In Fair Verona, Betrayal is Everywhere (Still Star-Crossed, Episode 2 review)

rosaline and escalusAt least this episode is better than last week’s episode was. Many of the positive things I had to say about Still Star-Crossed are still very much applicable, but a lot of the negative things I had have been rectified at least a bit. As I’d hoped, this show seems to be one of those that has an awful first episode and then slowly finds its feet and its own voice. That’s not to say it fixed all of its problems; on the contrary, the problems it still has are only more blatant this week, but overall it was a much more enjoyable outing. The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth picks up exactly where last week’s left off, with Benvolio (Wade Briggs) discovering Escalus (Sterling Sulieman) and Rosaline (Lashana Lynch) locking lips. With Verona in crisis, Rosaline and Benvolio have no choice but to follow Prince Escalus’ decree to marry one another in an effort to restore peace, which Rosaline struggles to accept. Lady Capulet (Zuleikha Robinson) continues to mourn Juliet’s death but, unsettled by the way she died, is determined to figure out what or who influenced Juliet’s decision. Meanwhile, Livia (Ebonee Noel) and the nurse (Susan Wooldridge) work tirelessly to revive Count Paris (Torrance Coombs), hiding a secret of their own.  (more…)