Brandon's Journal

Stargirl

The Arrowverse DC shows on the CW get a lot of flak online, and at times, rightfully so. The show runners balance telling solid superhero stories while infusing enough teen melodrama to keep the typical CW audience riveted. And well… it works. The shows do good ratings and the crossover appeal seems to be pretty big. But I think the lower budgets, forced relationships, and bad graphics at time get too much focus at times. Maybe I’m a little less harsh on the shows because I remember what it was like not to have superhero TV shows on and quite frankly, I don’t think they are all that bad. I’m not current on any particular show, but I’ve enjoyed Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl quite a bit over the years.

A few nights ago, I decided to do a DC Unlimited free trial to check out a few episodes of Harley Quinn. I was one of those people who paid upfront for a year of DC Unlimited when it launched and found myself quite disappointed with the offerings. I enjoyed Titans and loved some of the exclusive content they had at first, but when they cancelled Swamp Thing before it even aired I was crushed. Being a big Swamp Thing fan, this killed me and I began to lose faith in the service. It was apparent the streaming service wasn’t a priority for Warner Brothers, and the lack of comics upon launch and the constant rotating movies and comics proved that.

I logged on to watch Harley Quinn and that’s when I noticed the first episode of Stargirl was streaming. This was a show I didn’t really see myself enjoying and I had no interest in checking it out. But I ran across an article about Geoff John and how the character was a tribute to his sister who died in a plane crash and well… I just felt like supporting the show. It also helped that I really liked the cast. I’ve always been a huge fan of Amy Smart since I first saw her in Road Trip. I especially loved her performance in Interstate 60. Luke Wilson is great in the right role and Joel McHale is almost always a joy to watch. #SixSeasonsAndAMovie

I clicked on Stargirl and within the first couple of minutes I was beginning to regret it. The opening scene is action filled but a bit of mess tonally. I decided to let things played out and I’m glad I did. Stargirl was actually quite enjoyable and a breath of fresh air in comparison to the typical Arrowverse shows.

Stargirl comes across almost Spielbergesque. It feels like something you’d watch in the 80’s with the whole family. It’s wholesome, but not in a cheesy way. While watching it, I really felt the same sort of vibe I got from Shazam, which is a good thing. I miss that feeling of magic in the movies and Shazam really captured that for me. There was awe and excitement at the powers, and Stargirl channeled that as well, albeit on a smaller scale.

I’m not sure about villains as they came across a bit… unimpressive, but we really didn’t get a chance to learn much about them as this first episode spent the time setting up the family dynamic and introducing our main character to the world of superheroes.

Speaking our main character, Courtney, portrayed by Brec Bassinger, she did a great job. She’s in her early twenties, but does look and come across more like an actual teenager which is rare on TV shows. I’m interested in seeing how her character grows and if she can truly lead a TV show but my initial impression was a good one. I was pleasantly surprised with Stargirl and I hope it keeps up the same level of quality. It doesn’t feel like an Arrowverse show and I think that is a good thing. The DC shows on the CW could use a little diversity.

Picard

As cheesy as it may sound, the one fictional character I’ve grown to idolize over the years is Jean Luc Picard, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s a character who is good and authentic and I guess in an ideal world, he’s the man I’d like to be. With that being said, the character means a lot to me and as much as I was excited about the announcement of Picard, the recent CBS All Access show, I was equally terrified. My main concern was: would they taint my image of this character that I admire?

 

This concern led me to not watch Picard when it began airing. In fact, I waited till it was completely done airing and I was in the right mood to give it a shot. It’s a bit ridiculous to put so much pressure on a fictional television show to perform, but what can I say, I’ve had some rough spots in my life and I feel like the character and his actions has inspired me more than a time or two.

Last week, I decided to give Picard a go, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t my favorite TV show ever, but I felt like they did the character justice and the performances all around were quite impressive. I was not excited about seeing Picard as a renegade with a new crew, but damn if they didn’t pull it off. The supporting cast was incredible, as was the story.

The themes I pulled away from the show were: -Just because you are broken, doesn’t mean you are useless. -The world is deeply flawed, but there is always a place to do the right and noble thing.

Both of those lessons are very much the type of lessons I’d expect to get from an episode of The Next Generation, and although the show feels nothing like an episode of The Next Gen, I’m happy that the heart of the show was still to be found underneath all the layers of storytelling.

 

Star Trek fans seem to be incredibly decisive over the series, as they seem to be over every series, but I really enjoy the new versions of Trek like Discovery and Picard. I look forward to seeing what CBS offers up next and I hope the quality continues to improve.

Out of a Funk

Last night, I got myself in a bit of a funk. I’m not sure what happened, but sometime around dinnertime I just lost all my motivation. I couldn’t find a good movie to watch, a TV show I wanted to see, or a book I wanted to read. I was just indifferent. I wasn’t upset, bored, or anything like that, I just didn’t have anything that really spoke to me that I wanted to do.

I get like this sometimes; usually it’s when I’m dealing with a bout of depression, so it always worries me when it flares up. I messed around on my phone till around 11:30 PM, then went didn’t sleep all that well, and woke up feeling just about as unmotivated.

When I got to work, I started writing. I wrote a horror review, a couple posts for this site, and a few other things. I just wrote and wrote to see if I could kickstart something in me, but it didn’t. I still felt totally lifeless on the inside.

I hit up all my usual favorite interests (wrestling, horror flicks, writing, and even some Taoism/Buddhist stuff) and I just couldn’t find my spark. As lunchtime approached, I started scouring YouTube, Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, trying to find something I could watch on my thirty minute break that I would enjoy. Again, nothing came to me.

I have hundreds of movies I need to watch (or rewatch), dozens of TV shows, hundreds of books/comics, video games to play, wrestling matches to watch, and stories to write. It’s not like a I’m devoid of things that I can enjoy, but if I’m not ready to enjoy them what does that mean?

Well, this story has a good ending. I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich earlier in this morning so I was left with nothing to eat for lunch other than a cheese stick and some baked Cheetos. I decided to head to our shitty cafeteria and get a chicken quesadilla because let’s be honest, it’s hard to fuck that up. I thought maybe a nice warm meal in my stomach would do me good and so I took my quesadilla to a quiet spot, sat down and decided to just turn something on. I settled on Stargate SG-1. I’m on episode two of the fourth season and haven’t watched much over the past six months. I watched the final episode season three and the first episode of season four (it was a two-parter) about a month ago. I wasn’t super feeling those episodes so I just didn’t have the motivation to continue.

But today, when I was at my most disinterested, SG-1 ignited that spark in me. I only had about eighteen minutes to watch, but it only took about two minutes to get me invested. Friendly faces, simple yet fun storyline and a little positivity cheered me right up. It was like someone flipped a switch and that really made an impact on me.

What is it about a TV show (or movie or game) that can do this to a person? Are we that emotionally invested? Is it a familiarity that makes it feel homely? Everything in life changes, everyone grows old, moves, and evolves, but when I turn on SG-1, it’s my same favorite characters, looking the same, fighting the same battles. I’m guessing it’s that sort of familiarity that really makes it so beloved.

We’re all on this crazy rollercoaster of life and it’s important to find the little things that make ya happy. Luckily, we live in an amazing time where we have access to all sorts of fantastic entertainment that brings us joy and comfort. Today, it was SG-1 for me. Next week it may be watching Clerks. The week after AEW. It doesn’t matter what the actual content is, it’s all about the joy/peace you get from it. I’m thankful I had access to Stargate today, and I’m even more thankful that I turned it on and for eighteen minutes I felt better and those eighteen minutes turned around my entire afternoon.

I look forward to getting home and finishing up that episode of SG-1.

Forgotten TV: Kitchen Confidential (2005)

Take an unknown Bradley Cooper, Xander from Buffy, the dorky new waiter from Waiting, Jamie King, Frank Langella, and John Cho from American Pie put them in a sitcom based on Anthony Bourdain’s life and you get Kitchen Confidential.

Kitchen Confidential aired in 2005, but was put on hiatus due to baseball and in typical Fox fashion, was just never given a chance. The show was cancelled after thirteen episodes which stinks because the show was really good! It was maybe just a little be ahead of the foodie culture that exploded five-six years later, and Anthony Bourdain wasn’t a huge name as of yet.

I watched Kitchen Confidential mainly for Nicholas Brendan (Xander). I was in the midst of finishing up Buffy in 2005, so I felt an urge to see what else one of my favorite characters would go onto.

I’ve watched this series twice all the way through and just recently started a third watch through with Brandy. It’s a good show that isn’t available anywhere to stream or even to buy digitally at this time which is a shame.