Lovecraft Country s1e2: Whitey’s on the Moon

Air Date: August 23, 2020

Rating: 10/10

After a night of fighting monsters, the mystery thickens as Atticus, Leti, and George find themselves in an expensive mansion they believe is holding Tic’s father against his will. Tic soon finds out that something even darker is at play involving his lineage. Along with a shadowy cult calling themselves the Sons of Adam.

I feel like you can practically gauge a film, or any visual media, by how expertly they use their music. A standardly used song would just be something thrown in to set the scene, a masterfully used piece of music practically tells the story all by itself. I think the sound editing in this episode is great. It’s anachronic, like playing Marilyn Manson after a 50s car crash, but the show uses these pieces so well that it fits in with everything else. The title song of Whitey’s on the Moon by Gil Scot-Heron is something memorable, to say the least. Now that I think about it, the out-of-time songs are actually the least weird part of this episode.

Most of this episode was downright surreal. It’s a different take entirely on H.P. Lovecraft’s stories from the previous episode. I liked it a lot, but the former was very monster oriented and juxtaposing that with the Jim-Crow-racist law enforcement. Here, we still see the racism, but that’s countered with absolutely crazy, magic-using, narcissistic wizards who are using spells to trap people in their own psyche as much as they are shooting people with bullets. It’s more of a psychological thriller than the cabin-in-the-woods themed horror we saw in the last one. This episode is a different shade of Lovecraft, of the horror genre, and of its racial themes. It makes me wonder which tropes we’ll see in each category for the next episode, and hope this wasn’t just a fluke and we’re going right back to monster-smashing after this. Actually, I’d be fine either way.

SCORING:

+10: Masterfully done

The Simpsons s1e5: Bart the General

Air Date: February 4, 1990

Rating: 10/10

After standing up for Lisa against a bully, the biggest bull of them all, Nelson Muntz, is out for Bart’s blood. Bart has to enlist the help of Grandpa Simpson along with Herman, perhaps the craziest man in Springfield, to declare all out war against Nelson.

Matt Groening commented in an interview that they had to jump through hoops in order to get this episode past the censors, but nowadays it would be quite tame compared to today’s television (or even today’s Simpsons episodes). Though this features Bart as the main character the much more adult themes of war and what it means to be a leader are displayed. Something kids were much less privy to in the early 90s. Now I feel like stuff like this is covered on Adventure Time or other kid-based television. It was pretty heavy stuff for it’s time even if they didn’t go very far into deeper themes, but it’s message is there.

This is the first episode, outside of the Christmas Special, that feels like a real Simpsons episode. All the characters feel like they do in later installments, something I wasn’t sure would change this soon, but I’m glad that all the elements we love about the Simpsons seems to be in place.

I really like the character of Herman, someone who I don’t think shows up in any other episodes. I’m not sure though, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a lot of these shows, some I don’t think I’ve seen since I was a kid. The same kid who was influenced by this episode to declare war on my own Elementary School bully, oh, the bloodshed… (that “joke” only makes sense if you know about how much parents were worried about the Simpsons influencing children to be “bad” like Bart, this was before the days of things like South Park existed, or even before Comedy Central I believe).

SCORING:

+10: A great episode that shows for the first time just how far the show can (and will) go, also some pretty unique animation in this one

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Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage

Release Date: January 27, 2009

Version: Xbox 360

Rating: 6.2/10

The Lone Wanderer of the Capital Wastelands picks up a mysterious radio signal to help a few Outcasts from the Brotherhood of Steel to get to a weapon’s cache. However, in order to get there, the Hero/Villain of Vault 101 must complete a training tutorial that covers the Annex of Alaska by the Chinese during the war.

I thought about not doing this and maybe mentioning it when I review the rest of Fallout 3, but DLC is made after the rest of the game, so it’s usually completely separate from the main story and gives one the sense that it’s a completely different game, often adding new elements that can only be found there, just off of another game’s engine.

Playability 2.4 of 4: Overall the controls work fine, as long as you’re okay with the Fallout 3 controls by the point you begin this (something you can do as soon as you leave Vault 101 without much issue). But they kind of subtract more than they add for this one. For one, no looting of corpses and instead you’re just looking for ammo drops and occasionally extra weapons that can be found throughout the world of Anchorage. I also don’t like that there’s not much weapon options if you didn’t go for Small Guns right away (only one Energy Weapon?…but why?).

Another thing that bugs me is that nothing you do in the world really matters at all, and though I went for a straightforward approach while completely the mission, I wonder if there was a way to skip it entirely and just open the cache since it seems like the same thing is accomplished in the end. So, yes, it is playable, or as playable as the main game, but most of it seems pretty pointless aside from getting extra experience points. I think they were maybe going for the more mainstream FPS crowd with making this add-on, but I think they forgot about their main fans a little bit.

Fun Factor 2.4 of 3: It’s plenty fun actually running through and killing Chinese soldiers as they invade Alaska, blowing up their bases and trying to get an upper hand, but it’s plagued with weird moments where your meant to take this whole video-game-within-a-video-game seriously. It’s distracting from what I think is more or less just a time waster in something that’s already meant to waste time. I dunno, it’s a strange addition to Fallout 3, to say the least.

Story 0.4 of 1: This feels like a missed opportunity where it could show us some real history of what was happening during the war that ended the world. Instead it feels more like a Call of Duty simulator where one was neither asked nor called for. Also, the Brotherhood Outcasts are a bunch of idiots and I feel nothing for them, probably because they don’t have a story. I don’t even know why they’re outcasts? I’ll admit I may have missed something when they were first explaining themselves but even if I did these people don’t stand out to me in any way, just

Graphics and Sound 0.9 of 1: Well, graphics is as good as in Fallout 3 (fine for it’s time) but there are a few moments in this where the graphics really stood out. One is when your entered into the program and it goes from staring at a blank wall to going in through a portal. Another is when you blow up the artillery guns before being sent to Anchorage Main. Truthfully the graphics are probably better than in the main game, actually.

The sound is fine, but as a person who likes to listen to the radio throughout the main game I feel I have to ding it for not offering some kind of alternative for these moments.

Replay Value: 0.1 of 1: Not much here really, you can’t go back into the program once your out anyway. So you’d have to start a new game to do it again. But there’s not even moral choices to make like in the rest of Fallout 3 so you can’t play through again with the alternative Good/Evil choices you made the first time. It’s just straightforward and can help you get Power Armor really early in the game if you want it, but there’s no reason I can see to actually want to replay this again… until you make a new character and want that Power Armor at level 3.

Lovecraft Country s1e1: Sundown

Air Date: August 16, 2020

Rating: 10/10

The works of H.P. Lovecraft are brought to life in this show about racial relations in 1950s America. I’m not even kidding. Atticus Freeman gets a mysterious letter from his father and together with his Uncle George and his friend Letitia, they set off across the country to find him. Only to discover that a corrupt police system under Jim Crow laws are the least of their worries.

I’ve just discovered this show a little randomly and am pleasantly surprised by it. I was told it was good, but I didn’t expect it to be something more than just another horror show. Horror, in this case, seems to be more a backdrop for saying something about the real-world history of African-Americans during one of the darkest points for African-Americans in our history. Well, unless we’re going a hundred years before that…

Enough depressing history aside, this show uses horror-tropes incredibly well. It’s something when the tensest scene in the episode isn’t even when the monsters show up but one of the scariest parts I’ve seen on any screen is while our main characters are doing their best to drive the speed limit out of the county. You have to see it to know what I’m talking about.

Something else I have to say is that I think using the 50s as a backdrop is a very good choice. And I enjoy that we’re seeing Black people as the main characters because Lovecraft was kinda racist in his writings and this isn’t just a different take on his stories, it’s showing us a different light (a very dark light) for how things were during this time period. On a related note, I love seeing the culture and the music of this the fifties on screen and I really hope that there’s a lot more of both moving forward.

SCORING:

+10: Horror is simultaneous my most and least favorite genre, when it’s good, as this is, it’s really good, the problem is that it’s really hard to make horror this good

The Simpsons s1e4: There’s No Disgrace Like Home

Air Date: January 28, 1990

Rating: 8/10

After seeing how more loving the other families are at the power plant’s picnic, Homer decides the Simpsons need therapy. They enlist the help of Dr. Marvin Monroe, licensed psychiatrist, to help save their family.

Well, after last episode’s somewhat depressing tone, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this outing into the program. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very hilarious episode with absolutely no drama at all. This is a good thing! Okay, I feel that the need for drama in a sitcom is necessary but I also think the comedy should come first. And, after those first two clunky episodes (remember that the Christmas Special was actually 8th in production order), I’m glad to see that the Simpsons are coming into their own. Showing us just how zany this modern family can be.

I’m also glad to see one which focuses on the family as a whole and not just on one character or another. It’s nice to see how this family acts as a group and the hilarity to be had by such interactions. I suppose if I had any complaint about this episode it’s that some of the things are out of character for who they are later, especially with Marge and Lisa, but I know this is very early in this shows run and it’s not the writers fault to be trying things out before we know who these people really are.

SCORING:

+8: A hilarious episode though still a bit clunky as the show continues to fine tune its mechanics

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The Simpsons s1e3: Homer’s Odyssey

Air Date: January 21, 1990

Rating: 4/10

Bart takes a field trip to the nuclear power plant that ends up with Homer losing his job. In a fit of depression, Homer decides to kill himself. But, before he can he realizes his true purpose in life is to fight for safety and try to take down Mr. Burns and the power plant once and for all.

Bart going to the power plant on a field trip has some pretty great jokes, but everything after Homer getting fired becomes more than a little dramatic. Not that having drama is a bad thing in a show like this, but I turn on the Simpsons for a bit of hilarity and escapism but this episode seems to be more rooted in the real world than it usually is. I know this show is just starting out and just starting to find it’s form, but this is stuff that’s neither funny nor entertaining, it’s just stuff people do.

I suppose this is kind of the opposite of the last episode in that there the end was good while the rest was lacking, here the beginning is quite good, but everything after that is more than a bit lacking. Fun Fact: Smithers is drawn to be Black in this episode but that was changed by the next episode. Meaning they should probably get his voice changed to a African-American actor because that’s what’s important right now…

SCORING:

+5: Decent beginning

-1: …doesn’t really make up for a sub-par middle and ending

The Simpsons s1e2: Bart the Genius

Air Date: January 14, 1990

Rating: 6/10

After cheating on an IQ test and switching his answer key with Martin, Bart is taken to a school for genius children. Can Bart keep up when he’s not who he claims he is?

Well, here’s a lot of firsts for the Simpsons. Such as the first couch gag, the first episode exclusively about Bart, along with the first appearance of Martin. Despite this significance in Simpsons history, I mostly just felt kind of bored. It seems like this should have been a fish-out-of-water story with lots of laughs, and it got the Bart out of his element aspect, it just wasn’t as comedic as one might expect from something like this. I think that Bart doesn’t really try to hide who he is, just sort of goes along with everything and no one really questions it, let alone the people who should question it the most: Homer and Marge.

There was a pretty hilarious part at the end when Bart finally confesses everything to Homer, but I don’t think sitting through an entire mediocre episode is worth about 30 seconds of funny. Then again, this was the first official episode, and it’s not too bad as an introduction to the series, just the Christmas Special, as it was initially advertised, is just so much better.

SCORING:

+5: Has an okay storyline, it’s just not all that entertaining

+1: There is a decent part near the end

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The Simpsons s1e1: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

THE SIMPSONS: The Simpson family in the series premiere “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” episode of THE SIMPSONS on FOX. THE SIMPSONS ™ and © 1989 TTCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Air Date: December 17, 1989

Rating: 10/10

The Simpsons are looking to having a Merry Christmas. But with Marge having to blow the holiday-shopping money on getting Bart a tattoo removal, and Homer not getting his Christmas bonus from work, Homer tries to save the day by working as a mall Santa.

The Simpsons episode that literally started it all. Fun fact, this is actually later in production order but they decided to show this first as the premiere date was pushed back to near the end of the year. I’m glad they did though as what we’re given is not only a great introduction to the Simpsons as a family from the lower-middle class that, if nothing else, always tries to hold together as a family unit, but also a great Christmas episode, and one who’s message is that even in the worst of times, people can make the best of it. I suppose that’s a message we could all listen to in these troubling times.

I don’t have any complaints about this episode, though I do see it’s age in both animation and style. This was back when there was much less zaniness in this program, something it slowly starts to leak in until the heartfelt family goodness is much more secondary.

SCORING:

+10: A first of many and family friendly!

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Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends s1e6: 7 Little Superheroes

Air Date: October 17, 1981

Rating: 7/10

Chameleon secretly organizes a party for the Spider-Friends, including Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange, and Shanna the She-Devil. He plans to take them out one-by-one through his clever impersonations and traps. How can these heroes save themselves when they don’t know who to trust?

Last episode, I felt that the writers of the show were greatly inspired by 1930s monster movies. Here I feel it’s more a noir-mystery, also very common in the 30s. Maybe movies of that time period, with their more adult themes than that of films for 20+ years after because of the induction of the Hays Code, were having some sort of resurgence in the early 80s as the VHS was popularized. I don’t know why children would be the ones interested in that stuff though, but it’s also before my time so I don’t have a clue what things were like when this episode came out in terms of what was popular.

As a show with this premise, though, there really wasn’t much sense of mystery. For a moment I thought we were meant to guess at who Chameleon was impersonating, but then it shows us outright whenever he changes places with someone so there’s not much mystery to be had for the audience. Feels like a missed opportunity, but maybe they were worried about confusing or scaring the children in some way.

SCORING:

+8: Considering this is a Chameleon episode, a person with zero superpowers, he does a pretty good job of fooling these Supes

-1: Had they really dove into the mystery/noir aspects of the plot, I feel this could have been something great

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Mega Man 3

Release Date: November 16, 1990

Version: Mega Man Legacy Collection (Nintendo Switch)

Rating: 6.8/10

Become Mega Man to take down Dr. Wily’s evil army of evil robots…again! What do you want, their all basically the same…

Playability 3.2 of 4: The controls are essentially the same, but the inclusion of the slide move definitely ups the overall gameplay on the whole. It gives you a little more options when fighting tough enemies and adds unique puzzles that the answer is to do a slide. Not overly complicated, mind you, but it does make this entry into the series have its own take on the Mega Man character. This loses some points for being overly difficult, even for a Mega Man game. It requires very specific movements with knowledge of where every attack hits with each pixel. I don’t know how anyone did this without the rewind feature, and even with the ability to rewind, it’s exceptionally difficult to get through this game (now I’ll watch a speed run of the game just to feel depressed).

Fun Factor 2.1 of 3: Once you get over the overall hardness and learn to use the slide move effectively, it does become a pretty fun game. It’s exceptionally hard the whole way through though, and I would say this game is more for Mega Man experts than people just looking for a fun Mega Man game. Also, though I like most of the special weapons you get from bosses, a few a bit lackluster, like Snake Man, and some are just stupid, like Top Man, something that’s so hard to use effectively I never used it at all until I had to for the VERY LAST BOSS FIGHT!

Story 0.1 of 1: I mean, it’s not like you really need a story to have a good game, but this is such a rehash of the last two games that I really doubt anyone is playing this for the “great story.” There’s nothing new in this category.

Graphics and Sound 0.9 of 1: Both fine for the quality of the time it was released, but I have to ding it for graphics because it’s so difficult to approximate where you want to jump or land most of the time I wish they made it easier to know where platforms begin and end before you fall to your death.

Replayability 0.5 of 1: I still think this series is one of the most replayable of games of it’s types since you can go in any order to get to the final stages. But the weapons are mostly lame and the final level just a frustrating grind, it’s hard to see anyone but speedrunners really want to play this one many times through.

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