JP On Gaming

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

[Kinda Book Review] The Troisieme Testament Julius V

I took a long time to savor reading this book, the final chapter in the Prequel to "Le Troisieme Testament." It sat on the shelf, looking at me. Tempting me. Testing my willpower to resist, until alas.

I mean, like the First Series (click here for review) completed with a big reveal and a massive confrontation, this one does the same. Even if you knew how it would end it closes the biggest plot holes well enough and I was genuinely sad to get to the end.

This story has everything: battles, tie-ins with historical events, giving them an interesting and supernatural twist that makes this into a massive apocalyptic battle. The characters are so good and exciting. Whereas characters faded into one another in the earlier part of the story, at this point, they are well established.

Many of them passed through so many difficult times and ordeals. The internal torment of the characters are beautifully rendered with concise and evocative dialogue, mixed with the art gives a very clear sense of what is happening. Every one of the characters has a path all its own that comes to a roaring crash here.

The art is just on point. Here the supernatural against permeates the story to make you wince in terror for the implications, more than what you actually see. The scene I added here is one of those. It's not gory or disgusting but the beauty of the art and the dispair in the man's eyes tells you more than any dialogue could.

The battle scenes are filled with action and are so evocative, you get the feeling there are indeed thousands of troops converging on each other. The battle for Jerusalem, with the Zealots, the Sicarii, and the Romans is the kind of conflicts that you can only do in a book like this. In a movie, it would not capture the feel. The sequel of confrontations in the burning Temple bring to the fore all the angst and desires of everyone. The dialogue is short but its impact on the protagonists is profound. My breath shortened as I forced myself to slow down to savor and enjoy the panels.

We are blessed with two epilogues. The first one closes the story of "Julius," bringing the two main characters together one last time. In a scene that is just brilliantly poignant, they face each other one last time. Again, the religious aspect is played here so brilliantly, in the simplest of words. Gut wrenching as you want the antagonist to do what's right but he refuses. And its final frame showing the uncaring bust of the Emperor Vespasian looking on with uncaring eyes.

The second is less emotional, but leads into the prequel. It was a nice wink and good transition.

So even though this is a prequel, it stands on its own 100%. If you did not read the original, the story would be complete and satisfying. But that there are two parts, makes it just awesome. Just a great read all-around.

Oh what about the spoilers for the First Part? The end wrapping leads into it that should you read is in chronological order (Julius, then the Original) the reveal at the end is still applicable. The Testament here serves as a McGuffin to drive the action. The original tells us about its content. Masterful storytelling by Alex Alice. And the art.

Rating? 5/5 of course. No hesitation. None. I re-read it again before writing this review and I was just as enamored with it as I was before. That ending... awesome. I tried to find a flaw or issue with this and as I look for nitpicks, I keep noticing tiny gems I missed previously. I find no fault in that. There is a clear beginning/ middle/ end. And nothing more NEEDS to be said. Though we could expand on some things. We could expand on the crusade era, but that is not needed. The two parts hold everything together.

Monday, January 3, 2022

[Doctor Who Review] Eve of the Daleks

With the rather bland Flux storyline coming to an end, I was not expecting much. The drop in quality scripts under Chibnall made me very wary about this one and I was really worried this one would be a cringe fest. But let's get into it...

So the plot begins with two people stuck in a storage facility on New Year's Eve, a few moments before midnight. Then, the Doctor, Dan and Deadfish Yaz arrive.

This is a time loop episode. My eyes rolled.

After two loops, I was invested and found myself really into it, wondering "how the heck will they get out of this?" This was the most interested Doctor Who plot I watched in YEARS, easily the best of the Chibnall era.

Now, again we have Yaz who has no personality and really brings nothing to the show other than "Token Indian Woman." She gives some generic sass to Dan but it would've been much more fun if the Doctor had those interaction. So again, she's useless and brings nothing to the show.

Contrast with the quips Dan keeps making - the Manchester vs Liverpool early on was just funny. He comes off as genuine and funny. He is definitely a highlight of the season. Too bad he has been constantly sharing screen time with Deadfish.

The two throwaways are also interesting. Both have relatable problems and issues, and in the end came off as genuine people, something I found was missing in a lot of episode. Although their eventual fate is quite predictable, they go through the first cycles making a lot of sense. I enjoyed them.

The Doctor's plan felt "Doctor-y". It was fine.

Now the biggest let down I have with the episode comes towards the end when Dan makes Yaz realize she has a thing for the Doctor, then tells the Doctor about it. The scene, which could be a character-defining moment, falls flat, and has no heart, no warmth to it, I rolled my eyes in cringe at how bad the scene played out. Another failed attempt at something the should've been a personal highlight. By now, I don't care about Yaz and just want her gone as I will not miss her. Boring. Bland. Without personality.

I really expected to downvote this like crazy, but I was really seriously into it and liked it. So I will give it a 4/5.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Yearly Retrospective 2021

Personal and Family Life

- I still work and enjoy working at 247 Sports/ CBS Sports working as a back-end software engineer.

- Jojo is now a full-time driver

- Kitty is now in high school and a member of the JRTOC

- ActionMan played football and soccer for his school.

- Julie's sewing is growing.

- We all survived Coronavirus (I assume we had the delta variant).

World Events

- 2021 NHL Hockey To say that this year was interesting in the hockey world is a massive understatement. After 28 years, my Montreal Canadiens FINALLY made it to the Stanley Cup final once more. Even though the boys lost in 5 games (out of 7), it was a great and wild ride that reminded me how much I love this sport. I can only dream of the cup coming back home after so many years but it will have to wait a little longer. Still... I have a C-H tattooed on my heart forever. Go Habs Go.

- The internal divisions in the US, are tearing the country apart. The more we focus on our divisions, the more divided we become. Focusing on what brings use together is the key. I am riveted to see what happened and how it plays out.

- Storming of the Capitol On January 6th, rioters took over the Capitol. This is a VERY divisive issue that led to both sides being able to advance their narrative. I think both side have points, and both sides are in the wrong. We will eventually learn the truth but I just cannot simply take a position where one side is 100% right and one 100% wrong.

- Coronavirus still ravages the world. The information we get from the news is worringly one-sided with only one side that is 100% right and the other 100% wrong. Anytime this happens, I get very worried as I do not believe the world is black and white. Blind belief in anyone but god is worrisome and scary to me. Blind trust in any human being never leads to good results.

Trips

2021 was a pretty tame year when it came to traveling. We spent most of our year at home.

- Chicago, IL We took the family to go see our friend Florent, Florence, & Frederic in April

Publishing/ FOE

This year, I took on bigger but fewer projects to work on. Marked by two big releasesd and a few smaller ones. The smaller ones were often created as break-out projects for the bigger ones.

The work I produced this year was of much greater quality. Many of the changes in my style and process are difficult to show to others but I notice them.

Really with the release of Olympia, I have been lucky enough to increase my sales to the point where I managed to publish my products completed with brand new art created by great artists, some who I worked with longer and others new ones. Big thanks to all the artists who worked to make FOE come to life. I am looking forward to more work next year.

I think in 2022, I think I will focus on more balanced approach with a few short products and some bigger ones.

DM's Guild Releases
- Demonic Forces I: The Blighted a monster book
- Demonic Forces II: Graz'zt's Entourage a monster book
- Early Firearms a rules supplement

DriveThruRPG Releases
- Olympia Campaign Setting a book inspired by Greek Mythology

This year, many FOE products reached Best-Seller tiers on DriveThruRPG or DM's Guild. This is an opportunity to see how the quality of FOE product and their reach expands.

Bestseller Milestones: Gold
- Real Housewives of Ravenloft

Bestseller Milestones: Silver
- Akhamet Campaign Setting
- Apple of a Mother's Eye
- Curse of Strahd II: Griffon Hill Manor
- Ravenloft: Dreams of Dust
- Rahadin Dread Knight of Raveloft

Bestseller Milestones: Copper
- Olympia Campaign Setting
- Akhamet Player's Guide
- The Vanishing Ziggurat
- Lost Pyramid of Neferheket

Conventions

As the world returns to normal, I attended a few conventions this year: some on-line and some in-person.
- Festival Draconis Online
- Weekend in Rokugan 2021 Online
- Gencon 2021 Indianapolis, IN
- Memories of Rokugan 2021 Online (I did not write an AAR for it)

Blog

- This year, I posted mostly reviews and FOE announcements on the blog.

- I published a total of 104 posts here in 2021.

Books

This year, I read a variety of books with wildly different ratings. Some great, some terrible. A lot of Comics... a lot.

Non-Fiction
- The Histories by Herodotus
- Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan

Fiction
- Le Troisieme Testament: Julius Vol 3
- Le Troisieme Testament: Julius Vol 4
- The Man With Two Names by Vincent B Davis II
- A Hero of France by Alan Furst
- Water Sleeps by Glen Cook

Comics
- 52 Vol 1 by DC Comics
- 52 Vol 2 by DC Comics
- Batman: Knightfall Vol 1 by DC Comics
- Peter Parker the Spectacular Spiderman Vol 1 by Marvel Comics
- 52 Vol 2 (or 3/4) by DC Comics
- Daredevil: Dark Nights by Marvel Comics
- Justice League Vol 5: Legacy by DC Comics
- Deathstroke 1-3 by DC Comics
- Action Comics Vol 1 by DC Comics
- Superman Vol 1 by DC Comics
- Action Comics Vol 2 by DC Comics
- Action Comics Vol 3 by DC Comics
- Thor: The God Butcher by Marvel Comics
- Captain America: America First by Marvel Comics
- Justice League: Volume 6 by DC Comics
- Justice League: Volume 7 by DC Comics
- Superman Volume 2 by DC Comics
- X-men and the Micronauts by Marvel Comics
- Avengers West Coast: Sins of the Past by Marvel Comics
- X-Men vs Avengers/Fantastic Four by Marvel Comics
- Fantastic Four Essential Vol 4 by Marvel Comics
- Batman City of Crime by DC Comics

TV and Film Reviews

This year, I reviewed the latest season of Doctor Who for this blog.

- Doctor Who - Revolution Of the Dalek

- Doctor Who - Flux (Consolidated)


So with all this, I wish you all a very happy new year.

JP

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Adventure Design Fail: Writing for myself

So as a special holiday treat, I decided to run a D&D game and offer the game to locals. I had an idea, a plot, a villain, and an something I wanted to accomplish. It was set in Olympia, which can just tell any story.

So I wrote all that down.

Created a stat block, a map, and embellished the story with a few interesting setting insights.

Then this morning, I woke up thinking. "There is not one unique, fantastical element in this. It's the most historical adventure I ever written." Now, there were fantasy elements: magic and unique races, but really, nothing stood out to me. As a one-shot, there wasn't much to do. It was really something for me, the writer/ GM/ setting man, but not for the PCs.

So what does a dumbass author do? He decides to re-write everything because he had another idea! Now this is not lost work... I believe the re-write puts the star and main decision in the hands of the PCs. So I will run with that...

So getting ready for the game right now... I think this will be much more interesting for THEM.

Will I succeed? That's still to be determined.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Doctor Who Flux - Consolidated Review

I am creating this post to provide a single link to the reviews of the Season.

- Halloween Apocalypse

- War of the Sontarans

- Once, Upon Time

- Village of the Angels

- Survivors of the Flux

- The Vanquishers

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

[Review] Batman City of Crime

I bought this book in the bargain bin at my local comic shop. A modern Batman story...

I must say that I did not enjoy this one. It's a mess. There is no action, and when there is, it is very slow . Most of the story is told by a disembodied narrator. And he talks. A LOT. The characters just talk and talk and talk. Full of one pages cover shots but the action doesn't flow.

One of the good thing was the use of classic Batman villains like the Penguin, Mr Freeze, and the Ventriloquist.

In the end, EVERYTHING about this is futile. That's the takeaway from this. I must say by the end, I was depressed by it. Just futile.

I would've given this a 1/5 but the art is the best part, earning this book a weak 2/5. I want my superhero stories to advance and to give me some hope or something to change. This didn't. I didn't like it.

Monday, December 20, 2021

[Review] Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 4

This volume is one I received last year as a gift. I have been reading and enjoying a lot of these Essentials. Reading these classic stories and their modern reimagining is always interesting.

I dig the Fantastic Four, but most of this volume is forgettable. The stories are fine. The biggest development is the birth of the son of Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman.

The other development is the replacement of the Invisible Girl with Crystal as a member. Crystal plays the damsel in distress and to be honest, she is not overly interesting.

As I try to remember any interesting plots, I frankly cannot. There are some interesting guest-stars, such as Daredevil, the Inhumans, Black Panther, and the Silver Surfer.

Everything is there, but nothing stands out. It's just bland.

So I thought of giving this one a 3/5 when I was done reading it, but after a month or so (yeah, I've been slacking in doing these). But due to the blandness, I must settle on a 2/5. There's nothing wrong, but there is nothing great about it.

Friday, December 10, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: The Vanquishers

So we are finally at the last part of Doctor Who Flux. Six episodes later and we come to the end. This episode was, to be honest, much better than the previous episodes. I originally thought it was just because it was the end of this but no. I found myself drawn into the story.

The problems plaguing the Chibnall era are still present: too many characters sharing the screen. We have Dan, Dead-fish Yaz, Kate Stewart, Cute Asian and Kinda Black Guy, Dog-Chewbacca, Dan's girlfriend, Prof Jericho, the old man from Liverpool, and three Doctors. So. Many. People.

However, in all fairness here, they all do something to advance the plot, even if sometimes having one of the Doctors with one NPC would create relations and connections. Dan barely speak to the Doctor, and I don't remember any scene where they shared anything that would make them become friends. They adventure together pretty much the same was as a GM saying "so you guys are in a tavern and something happens."

I really find myself wanting more Dan. Yaz sucks the life out of every time she is there.

How they resolve the Flux is just bad. Predictable and boring. So the blue and purple villains as just poofed by another creature we never met - though there are hints of the Master. This was a positive. Just too many things happening at once and resolution are just thrown together so fast. These should've been contained in their own episode.

One scene that proves to me that Chibnall simply can't write heartwarming scenes. In the epilogue again the Doctor tries to have a heartfelt conversation with Yaz who still can't emote. The scene is interrupted by Dan. I expected the scene to show us how the Doctor grew and learned from her previous experience with Graham. But no. Chibnall can't write emotional scenes.

At the end of the episode, I was left with a few questions and wanting to see more. I also wanted for Yaz to leave as she added nothing to the story and her arc over. The confrontation with the final enemy who was just revealed but not really detailed holds promise. There are elements that must be explored and issues still to be resolved. Not a bad point to end a series.

So, despite the many issues I have, when the episode ended, I was looking forward to seeing more and wanting for more resolution. This was the second time I had that feeling, after the Sontaran episode earlier this year.

My final rating? Of the Flux series, it is 3.25 perhaps one of the highest-rated ones. Rounding the score, I give it a 3/5. I may rewatch the episode to see if I missed anything. Despite its many flaws, the episode ended on a somewhat positive note.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Olympia Reaches Copper Bestseller

It is with great pride and profound humility that I can now report that the Olympia Campaign Setting has recently reached its first milestone: Copper on it way up. Olympia is filled with Greek myths, races and other goodies for your D&D 5th edition campaign.

The first lines of this products were written close to the same time as Akhamet, and over time, took shape by churning a number of ideas until it was something that was different and unique yet fully compatible with Akhamet, as the two could be either added to an existing campaign or joined together in a growing fantasy world. More products are forthcoming: adventures and a extraace book that will expand on the current choices.

This is a great book where Hellenophiles will be able to apply all their knowledge, from Homeric tales to the 300 Spartans, to the Successors, all coexist within this setting. Medusas, cyclops, harpies, and wildmen can be found within.

Get it now on DriveThru RPG.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

[Kinda Book Report] X-Men vs Avengers/Fantastic Four

Another book I drew from the bargain bin. This trade book includes the X-Men vs Avengers and X-Men vs Fantastic Four (FF) along with the issue where the two groups first meet. The oddest thing is that the more modern series is FOLLOWED by the first meeting, when it seems the other way around would be more natural.

The Fantastic Four vs the X-Men series comes first. Here we have Reed Richards having a personal battle with his demons, doubting himself and his capacities are he is challenged by the X-Men to find a way to save Kitty Pride who is phasing away following the mutant massacre (a cross-over event I really loved at the time when I began secondary school). After Richards refuses to help, the X-Men turn to the next brightest mind: Doctor Doom.

This is Chris Claremont at his best. Everyone of the characters gets to shine here. Reed Richards' crisis is not trivial and understandable. His relation with Sue and Franklin are strained. On the X-Men side, they have to deal with internal conflicts, their alliance with Magneto and working dealing with the coma of both Colossus and Nightcrawler, and Kitty Pryde's condition. They come of as very stressed and some of their decisions are rash but not foolish. The two teams clash multiple times but the pace and story keep moving on.

Easy 4/5 with re-readability.

Next we have Fantastic Four #28 where the X-Men are sent to kill the FF because the Puppet Master took control of Professor Xavier. This is a classic early hero vs hero issue serving as a way to expose FF fans to the X-Men. It's serviceable yet it's greatest value is its nostalgia of seeing these early X-Men before they became the accomplished characters Claremont later gave us.

4/5 (rounded up from 3.5) with good re-readability.

The third series are X-Men vs. the Avengers. The line-up of both teams is one I'm familiar with and timewise happened before the FFvXM series. Here, we have Magneto recently turned good guy with the Avengers trying to arrest him, the X-men protecting him, and the Soviet Super-Soldiers (SSS) trying to kill him for his crimes.

After fighting on and off for three issues, the two teams eventually join forces while SSS exit because the Crimson Dynamo manipulated them to go after Magneto. It's a little wonky, but works. I must say that I really like how Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Doctor Druid (who they are really trying to push) are pivotal to the plot.

The final issue has Magneto put on trial for his crimes. In the end, he is found innocent which only seems to fuel more anti-mutant sentiment. In a way, it's a very bittersweet ending, yes he is released but things are not going better.

The biggest downside I have with this is that there is a LOT going on, as does not feel as refined as the FFvXM. Still the final issue is absolutely reveting as Magneto tries to find if one of the judge is crooked and whether he should influence the judges. It really add gravitas and keeps his character intact: he may have decided to reform but he's not suddenly a goodie-two-shoes. He is still willing to do some underhanded actions. Claremont knows Magneto and this series advances him and the X-Men.

4/5 with high re-readability (5/5 on issue #4).

The final issue is X-Men #9 when the X-Men first meet the Avengers. Again the hero vs hero formula, though this time the X-men are going to deal with a problem when the Avengers show up and effectively tell these kids to stay out of the way. After beating up the X-Men, the Avengers decide to leave when Professor Xavier tells them he needs the X-men.

The villain is creative if his name (Lucifer) is not. He has a nuclear device that will destroy America if he is damaged. The Professor and Cyclops finally disable the device.

This is the weakest of the stories in this book, and my rating may be biased from nostalgia but I'll go with a 3/5 with some re-readability.

Overall, this book rates a solid 4/5 with the biggest issue I have with it is the odd order the issues are in the book. I would've preferrred a chronological presentation with FF 28, X-Men 9, X-Men v Avengers, and finally FFvXM.

Monday, November 29, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Survivors of the Flux

As the season keeps crashing down, I keep watching this ever-growin trainwreck of a season, we continue fitting a house boat, a car, and all the garden tools we can on this 10 square feet shed and wondering why things aren't going well.

So the lead-in at the end of the previous episode with the Doctor turning into an angel turns out to just fizzle out. ANOTHER let-down. So in turn, we got nothing new about the angels, nothing interesting.

Most of the episode were a series of monologues where the NPCs speak with the Doctor about their masterplan. Again, Dan and Jericho (another NPC we keep from Village of the Angels) are the only people who have normal reaction. Dead fish Yaz is never affected, surprised, curious, or scared by anything, so she's a waste of screen time.

Add to that Dog-Guy, Cute-Asian, Kinda-Black-Dude, and the blue guy and gal.

The joke-pushing Himalayan hermit was just... BAD. He's making modern-day jokes about gossip. I mean does Chibnall have any concept of time travel or how long paint stays on the group if untended? Nope. When you are trying to set the tone for something catastrophic slapstick and Disney-Channel humor does not help.

Did I forget the many scenes with some other villain we never heard of before. And Kate Stewart, whom I was happy to see whose appearance had gravitas.

Oh yeah, half that time, we get back to the Timeless Children person and keep trying to showhorn that arc into the overall story. To be honest, I expect that to be retconned or simply abandonned later.

So this over-plot is just bad. A mega conspiracy that includes everyone that only the Doctor does not know about. Oh wait, her memories are locked away. Pffff... Everything about this is just BAD.

I cannot wait for the season to end and Flux gets forgotten. This is another episode that should be 2 or 3 and that does not want to drop any character for any reason, or allow the Doctor to experience and discover what is happening and piece together for us in a Sherlock Holmes-like fashion. Instead she looks confused with her upper lip curled as if someone farted on set (that is also Yaz' usual face).

The only survivors of the flux are us, and after watching this, I'm not sure if I don't want to just disappear in it.

1/5 with no care for a rewatch.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Village of the Angels

After an episode that I rather enjoyed the previous week, we now jumped into "Village of the Angels". Now, I will say a few things... I think the angels are overdone and have little interesting that can be added to them and their mythology. Well... At the same time, they have not been a direct enemy of a story for year (though they were mentioned or shown briefly throughout this season).

So although I thought I suffered from Angel fatigue, I really dug the idea of them coming back.

So here we get a story of a crazy village in 1967 and 1905 with a missing girl. The story is convoluted, with the angels sending the NPCs to the past. Again, the only person who has human reactions is Dan. Yaz is still a dead fish, and when we find the young girl, she is even calmer and more stoic than a cyberman.

So the girl's family are mere caricatures: neither of the two old people have any redeeming quality about them: they are bad to the girl, they don't really care what happens to her. Then later when they get killed by the angel, we should care? No. No, we don't. If they have been sourly, disciplinarians, and even annoyed that she misbehaved, they might've garnered some sympathy or even a reaction from the cyberman-girl. No one cared but Dan and Yaz (whose eyebrows lifted).

The Doctor now has psychic powers she can use like Spock, and it just gets too much. Why not give those to a companion and give them something more to do. Pfff.

The big reveal at the end, that the angels are minions for a yet-defined group. This feels like a conspiracy that wants to be the Pandorica but less interesting and with too many people sharing the screen.

Again, Cute-Generic-Asian-Girl appears. Just stop. Focus on the essential. Drop Yaz.

All right, after some initial interest and curiosity, that quickly dropped as the story unfolded and I just felt like someone wanted to give me twelve thread at the same time thinking they are all equally important and interesting. But they are not.

So my score? 2/5 with no re-watch. I could not wait for the end of the episode. I dread the ultimate reveal will not be worth the wait.

This one sucked but differently that the previous episodes of this season, while still having too many characters.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Once, Upon Time

Well, it had to come. The 3rd episode of Doctor Who Flux came by. and this episode, Once, Upon Time. After the previous episode left me with positive thoughts about the possible direction for the show, now we go into a confused mess of scenes and subplots that are boring and simply uninteresting.

Eye rolling occured frequently throughout.

Again, the episode is filled with too many people with too little to say or do while trying to do too many things all at once. Like a "Buddy Cop Sci-Fi Time Travel Historically-Accurate RomCom with nod to 70s and 90s Horror." You understand that it is just too much to create something interesting.

Except Yaz who looks as interested as I am in eating a bowl of tofu with no seasoning, no sauce, and no way to hide that I'm eating Play-Doh. That girl just phones it in. She has the emotions of a dead fish and the only sequence involving her where she makes a difficult decision is done off-screen. I'm thinking that may be because seeing her act through the

Compared to Whitaker's attempt are coming across as interested or that she understands what's going on (she does not). I'll git it to her that she tries but the material is a confused mess of guh. Again we have Jo Martin (who unlike Whitaker understands what she's trying to do and comes off as a competent character).

Again Dan is the one character who would be interesting in developing but he's drowned in the noise and pointless side-stories of the the useless characters.

Now we have extra black-guy with a subplot to join cute-traveling-asian-girl-with-tamaguchi. I just do not care for these random characters.

CUT OUT THE EXTRAS. Explore these characters with us AND the Doctor, not in an ensemble cast, which Chibnall is incapable of writing and giving us a coherent story. It was as if you had so many random ideas and you flattened them all together... Pfff.

For a score, I will give this ADHD-filled delusion of an episode a 1.5/5, which rounds out to 2/5. A little strong, I think. A clear "NO" on the rewatch.

Monday, November 15, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: War of the Sontarans

Time for the second episode of the Doctor Who Flux, and an opportunity to see where this plot is going. So let's get into it.

The story begins interestingly enough with the Doctor, Dan and Yaz all appearing in the Crimea (1854-55). And meeting Mary Seacole who is the only level-headed person here.

One of the things this episode really excited me was the return of the Sontarans. Not the bumbling comedy Moffitt gave us. I like the Sontarans and their over-the-top militaristic tough guys approach to everything. It is funny but at the same time terrifying that people may actually think that way. A good point for the villains!

Now what most people remember of the Crimean War is NOT Mary Seacole, but the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade. No reference to it here. Not a word.

All the man are bumbling fools who do random things without concern with repercussions. Pffff... I am so tired of these predictable plots where token characters can be described as "dumb old white guy," or "tough calm intelligent black woman." Lazy writing. To give you an idea, the episode did not spend any time telling us who Mary Seacole is, what she accomplished, why she is important. Nope. You, dumb viewer, SHOULD know who she is. No. Tell me. Use this in the story.

But no. we just get the same preachy bullcrap where the woman is right, good, and intelligent while the officer is completely idiotic, listening to no advice or intelligence from anyone.

Now after a trip to Wikipedia informed and now I'm actually even MORE disappointed in how she was used in the story. Rather than have the Doctor ask her to catalog and merely look at the Sontarans, have the diary. In case you did not know, she kept an extensive diary complete with illustrations that was turned into an autobiography.

I will say that at the end, when the Sontaran ships exploded and the officer claimed the credit for it, I cheered. "By Jove, you saved your world!" Then the Doctor chewed him out and I just wanted her to STFU. Instead of just displacing TIME-TRAVELLING SHIPS, he destroyed them.

Yes. Destroying TIME-TRAVELLING SHIPS is the only way to ensure they won't come back (in time) and take you over.

Good work, Dumb Old White Guy!

Dan on the other hand, gets an interesting subplot where he travels to modern-day Liverpool where the Sontarans are building time ships. He does some sneaking around. All the while trying to convince himself that this is crazy. You know, a real person's reaction. He is truly the high point.

Yaz is a talentless actress without any range of emotion who always looks confused or disdainful. Don't care about her. Yaz is just surplus at this point. She adds nothing, has no meaningful arc and will not evolve, change, or mature before the camera. She is "tough cop Indian woman".

I love the fact the his aging parents are the ones who teach him how to take down the Sontarans. It is just so funny. I really like Dan and what little we have seen of his girlfriend, family, and subplot overall so far. A high point.

The space-guy Vinder is window-dressing. Just someone else to steal away screen time. He's "fine" but really provides nothing of interest.

So despite all my moaning and griping about what I did not like about it. This episode is actually pretty decent and fun. The pacing is good, the side-stories advance the overall plot. We learn more about Dan. I will definitely rate this one a re-watchable 3/5.

"By Jove, you saved your world!"

Monday, November 8, 2021

[Review] Doctor Who Flux: Halloween Apocalypse

Okay so I decided I would watch and review Doctor Who's thirteenth season called "Doctor Who Flux." I giggled when I saw the name but Flux can mean diarrhea in French. So let's see if this proved to be prophetic.

Quite frankly, the episode, call "The Halloween Apocalypse" opens on a bad CGI scene where the Doctor and Yaz are hanging from a flying thingy. It is pretty obvious neither actress cared for the situation because they both looked bored, jaded, and unimpressed. And no surprise, they escape through some shenanigans that left me unimpressed and bored.

The rest of the show goes at a break-neck speed introducing villains we should be afraid in spite of us not known who they were. Truth be told, I got the impression that I was watching the introduction to a long movie.

Highlights: John Bishop is a breath of fresh air. He comes across as genuine, for his reactions are "normal" as he is curious, worried, afraid, intrigued, and his thick accent is just fun and interesting. In just a few scenes, he comes out as fleshed out and interesting. He's "one of the lads" and a Liverpool boy through and through.

- The Dog People. I think the basic idea of their relation to mankind was a really funny trick and I'll admit that I smiled at that reveal.

Low-Points: Well... Let

- In an effort to present Mandip Gill as a rough and tough character, she comes across as a jaded, uninterested bitch whose only expression is one of contempt. Whereas before we had three companions of which Graham was the (potentially) most interesting, now Yaz gets no on-screen development. She is the "tough" chick who is the equivalent to the Doctor. Heck, she even helps fly the TARDIS, something which some better, more developed companions like Rose, Amy and Rory, or Clara didn't do, or very little of. I can't wait for her to go.

- The Doctor is just neurotic, providing exposition, but not really. She now is hit by psychic powers/ premonitions on a constant basis.

- Too much foreshadowing in one episode, which makes this episode a gathering of too many short scenes to let us know the Sontarans, the Weeping Angels, and Gem-head will be antagonists. I thought the foreshadow by John Barrowman was a MUCH better way because it was concise and gave all the details in a few short sentences.

- Other than a few lines about "Trick or Treat, Doctor", it had very little to do with Halloween.

- The Dog People joke went on just a tad too long here without resolution.

So what are we stuck with in the end? A big block of random scenes and characters that make little sense so far. From the moment I decided this was the start of a big long movie, I began to appreciate it more. Knowing this season will be six episodes, we can guess:
- 1 Sontarans
- 1 Weeping Angels
- 1 Dog People
- 1 Gem-head
- 1 Fixing the Tardis/Flux

... and that's a season.

So the reason this felt like all of this was crammed together almost feels like Chibnall did not have enough material for one episode so he added scenes.

Frankly, I would've like to have some character development for Yaz, but token "tough Indian chick" is about all she will ever be from now on.

So my rating... I waffled on this one. It is a solid 2.5/5, worse than a 3 and better than 2. The final rating will depend on following episodes. So for now, I will round up to a 3. Against myself, I found myself surprised and smiling (the Dog People, I really liked).

Would I watch again? Maybe. My answer is not a "no".