What I’ve Been Watching – January 2018

The Orville

This is best described as a comedy version of Star Trek. Basically imagine The Next Generation injected with Family Guy humour. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but this odd hybrid actually works quite well.

Although the trailers make it look like a Trek-spoof, it feels more like a love letter to Star Trek… a proper series with a full-on cast of characters to get to know and learn about. The episodic stories show a lot of imagination and the tone swings seamlessly between funny and serious. It’s a testament to Seth McFarlane’s impeccable comedic timing that such a bizarre formula should work so smoothly.

It’s great for me because I grew up with shows like The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and then went on to enjoy comedies like Family Guy. I don’t like the helmsman, who is described as a ‘total jerk’ and sadly lives up to that name. And at times the humour dips to low-brow levels, which is a shame because (like Family Guy) it is funniest when it is being clever instead of goofy.

This is the kind of Star Trek I’ve been curious about ever since I read an interview many years ago with Garrett Wang, who plays Ensign Kim in Star Trek Voyager. He said he wanted to make a show that was a mix of Star Trek and Scrubs. I always used to wonder… could something like that actually work?

Well Seth McFarlane has shown us it definitely can! I’m five episodes in and very much looking forward to watching the rest of the series!

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Currently streaming on Crunchyroll, this is a terrific anime series with a somewhat misleading title translation. ‘Recovery of an MMO Junkie’ sounds like it’s about someone who is trying to break an addiction to MMOs. In truth, it feels more like an anime version of You’ve Got Mail.

Two strangers who run into each other in the real world are unaware that they already know each other online in an MMORPG. And thus does their relationship start to blossom, with a few hijinks along the way. The show follows Morioka Moriko as she dives between the MMO world and the real world.

What I love is that it highlights the contrast between real life appearances and virtual ones. Moriko isn’t portrayed as stereotypically as other women in a lot of anime… she looks and dresses like anyone would when they’re just relaxing at home. It’s only when she’s playing her virtual character that she adopts a sugary cutesy persona.

It’s a smart element of the show, but also a subtle one that isn’t shoved down your throat. Additionally, the characters are likable, the story is charming, and the artwork feels fresh and inviting.

I’m five episodes in and am really enjoying it – a definite DVD purchase for me if it’s ever released physically in the UK.

Bright

Currently streamable and downloadable on Netflix, Will Smith’s latest offering gets off to an intriguing start.

Imagine if Orcs and Elves were as real as humans and had endured the ages to exist in modern day society. The opening credits set the tone for this society with stark images of urban decay, racial intolerance and gang warfare. It all looks quite promising.

Unfortunately, what follows is a rather limp story of Will Smith on patrol with a partner he dislikes. He’s a lot like the character he played in I, Robot but without any charm or humour. Amid a few unexciting action sequences, they stumble upon clues that warn of a greater threat.

The thing that spoils the film for me is the ham-fisted world building. The characters constantly spell out the lore for the audience with some very clumsy dialogue, which kept ripping me out of the story. Magic wands give you anything you want! Elves are rich! You’ll never see an Elf with a mop!

It’s not expressed very well, but I have to give credit to the actors… they clearly use every ounce of effort to make these lines sound believable and dramatic. The director is also adept at creating a gritty crime drama vibe. Alas, none of it can overcome the weak script… not even the action scenes, which are fairly bland.

As some lightweight entertainment, it’s worth having on in the background if you’re cooking dinner or something. But beyond that, I can’t really recommend this one.

So that’s what I’ve been watching lately. Feel free to share any thoughts in the comments and thanks for reading! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Watching – January 2018

  1. I have to admit, I gave up on Orville after the first episode. It made me cringe – a lot! On the other hand, I really enjoyed Bright. Yes, there was a lot of exposition that was clumsy, but I thought the story had legs. And they’ve renewed it for a sequel. It’s a world I’d like to see more of. Especially the elves! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heh heh – that’s fair enough 🙂 I really love what Netflix is doing with it’s original films and shows. It’s giving filmmakers a chance to express themselves without worrying about ratings or performance. If there’s a solid idea for a Bright sequel then I wish it good luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My wife really wanted to watch that 🙂 We’re both big fans of Hugh Jackman. Alas, we weren’t able to make it happen between work and childcare. Definitely on DVD though!

      Like

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