Category Archives: Jumping the Soapbox

Jumping the Soapbox: Top 20 Episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Part 2 (10-1)

ATHF0

Welcome back to my list of the best Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes of all time!  We covered some great episodes last time, but the best is yet to come!  Well, at least what I think is the best, but then I’m always right about everything and my opinion should DEFINITELY be taken as fact!  Anyway, let’s get to it!

.

10) Space Conflict from Beyond Pluto – S1 E6

ATHF10a

Frylock establishes contact with alien lifeforms and is invited onto their spaceship to barbeque and share a six pack.  However, the nefarious Plutonians have other plans in mind once he arrives!  Not fully thought plans, but they tend to involve melting people!  Frylock, realizing that the life he’s come into contact with may not be intelegent, beams off the ship but not before Master Shake somehow finds his way aboard; giving the Plutonians a much less perceptive target to unleash their evil schemes upon!

As I’ve said before, the incompetent conquerors from Pluto are two of the best characters the show ever came up with and this first appearance of them is one of the high points of the entire series.  It’s not just great for establishing the Plutonians and their shtick with the show concept being the melting room which also serves as some sort of holo-deck for Master Shake to explore the wonders of a sea filled with pizza as well as a horse’s anus, but it’s also a fantastic Master Shake episode on top of that with the scam he tried to pull on Carl being sharply written and laugh out loud funny.  The only thing I can say negatively about this episode is that it is in fact an early episode of the series and is at a point where Carl didn’t quite sound right which is a bit distracting, but other than that it’s a great deal of fun and a wonderful introduction to these villains.

ATHF10b

“Pepperoni!?  I wanted pineapple!!”

.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Jumping the Soapbox: Top 20 Episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Part 1 (20-11)

ATHF0

Aqua Teen Hunger Force and all the images you see in this editorial are the property of Adult Swim

If you were growing up right at the turn of the millennium, Cartoon Network was probably as influential to you and your taste in entertainment as YouTube is to everyone else nowadays.  The ingenious thing about that network is how seamlessly it managed to keep its audience intact for YEARS after you’d think they’d drop off simply for having such good transitional programming for those who were getting older.  It started with Toonami which brought anime and somewhat serious drama for those who were getting tired of silly stuff that the likes of Gendy Tartakovsky, Craig McCracken, and Maxwell Atoms were churning out (not to say those shows weren’t substantive; just that tweens aren’t exactly looking to those kind of shows to feel grown up), and then it led seamlessly to Adult Swim which had the naughty shows on that you craved when you were getting old enough to stay up that late.  The greatness of Adult Swim and its monumental effect on animation really cannot be underestimated, and while it’s shine has faded somewhat in recent years, we’re gonna reach a point where it’ll end up with a whole generation of animators inspired by those shows the same way that many of the creators OF those shows were inspired by Warner Bros, the Fleischers, or even Ralph Bakshi.  I really could go on about Adult Swim and so many of its shows, but today  we’re talking about probably its most enduring creatin; Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  Now sure it wasn’t among the FIRST run of series for Adult Swim (it’s somewhat a spinoff of Space Ghost Coast to Coast), it’s one of the shows that gave the programming block its identity and made it a cultural phenomenon.  In fact, it’s such a massive series with so many great episodes under its belt that I couldn’t simply make a list of the ten best episodes of the series!  No, I had to do TWENTY, and we’re gonna start with the first half that list right now!!

.

20) Bible Fruit – S5 E9

ATHF20a

Frylock makes some new friends online and invites them over to the Aqua Teen house.  When they arrive however, he is surprised to learn that not only are they fruits but  that they have a dark past that they are trying (and failing) to overcome.

What better way to start this off than with the most disturbing fruit since those Claymation California Raisins?  In an episode that’s actually quite ahead of its time considering Sausage Party wouldn’t come out for another eight years, this hilarious and often unsettling episode looks at three fruits compensating for their problems with drugs and alcohol by having faith in a higher power.  Now the big guest star here is David Cross (along with Kristen Schaal and H Jon Benjamin) under the pseudonym Sir Willups Brightsly Moore who previously had a guest spot all the way back in season one as Happy Time Harry in the episode Dumber Dolls.  While that episode is really good and was just barely cut from this list, I feel that Cross’s performance as Bert Banana in this one is by far the better of the two.  He may have done a great job as that sad and useless piece of shit Happy Time Harry in Dumber Dolls, but the character didn’t have much depth to him and so Cross’s performance is somewhat one note.  Here, he’s given SO much more material to work with as someone TRYING to hold it together but is quick to succumb to his worst instincts.  Now I’m not sure if Cross himself has a history of alcohol dependence (his first book is called I Drink for a Reason which may just be titled that way for a goof), but his feelings on religion have been made VERY clear in his standup comedy and it almost feels like the role was written with him in mind because of that.  It may not be for everyone as making light of people with SERIOUS addition is not the kind of humor that everyone can enjoy, but it’s easily one of the best episodes with a prominent guest star and manages to find that right balance between tragedy and hilarity.

ATHF20b

“I did THREE of those God Damn chipmunk movies!  I’VE EARNED THIS, right Mr. Wrench!?”     “That’s right Mr. Banana!!”     “Burt, you’re talking to yourself again.”     “You know what will help with that?”     “Is it booze-”     “GET THE BOOZE!!”

Continue reading

Jumping the Soapbox: Angry Joe’s Baadasssss Vlog and the Realities of Producing Content Online

ANGRYJOEJTS0

The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

With a video game media landscape full of ANGRY YOUNG MENTM screaming about women trying to take their toys and Ethics in Bullshit, Joe Vargas, (AKA Angry Joe) is one of the few voices out there I genuinely respect that positions themselves in the TRUE GAMER archetype; one that is filled to the brim with toxicity to which he’s somewhat of an anathema to.  Sure, I can’t say that I’ve agreed with EVERYTHING he’s said and done (and being THE LEAST AWFUL in that field is a pretty low bar to clear), but for all his faults he’s never come off as a bad guy or a hateful reactionary like so many of his peers; not even when he gets into ANGRY RANT MODETM.  What I’m here to talk about though, whether you like the guy or not, is bigger than this specific case and it’s an important conversation we need to have  regarding the drastic shift in the last few years of how we consume content and interact with their creators.  Okay, I PROBABLY won’t be breaking a lot of new ground here, but considering how bad Joe has gotten it in the last few months, it’s clearly a lesson that many of us could use a refresher course on.  Before we can get into that though…

.

WHERE’S MY REVIEW!? – The hiatus that broke the internet

ANGRYJOEJTS1

So Angry Joe has been making videos on YouTube pretty much non-stop for a decade now, but in the last two years his channel has blown up significantly as has the content he’s producing; uploading Let’s Plays, first impressions, and (GASP!) movie reviews, to go alongside the Angry Reviews he’s known for.  Now while the production of Angry Reviews hasn’t slowed down in any significant way (2014 had thirteen reviews, 2015 had fourteen, 2016 had thirteen, and 2017 has had ten so far with the only real outlier being the twenty three reviews done in 2012), he was getting quite a bit of backlash from his subscribers about the rate at which he was releasing them and eventually he had to take a break for his own mental well-being so he can recharge his batteries and come back stronger than ever.  Now I don’t know the dude personally and really only have his own videos to go by, but considering how many reviews he’s made and the way he describes his work hours, the dude has been living on a Crunch Time schedule for the last decade and we’ve been reaping the benefits of that endless grind, so the idea that people will get upset that he’d go on vacation for a bit (even though he’s STILL producing content during it) seems ludicrous… but here we are.  He’s published four videos since December of 2016 about the growing frustration coming from this segment of his fanbase1, but none of them have done much to mollify the situation; one in particular seemingly making it worse.

Continue reading

Jumping the Soapbox: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The One Where Dennis Leaves the Show

SUNNY0

The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

One of my favorite shows of all time is Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia which I actually came into pretty damn late into its run.  I was always aware of its existence, but I never really had a reason to sit down and watch it until around 2013 when I was stuck in bed for like two days due to a minor surgery I had and I needed something to watch to kill the time.  In an effort to fix that problem, I booted up Netflix, saw that it had like eight seasons, and figured why not?  To this day, I rarely go a week (and usually no more than a single day) without putting it on in the background of whatever it is I’m trying to do at the time which is more often than not writing stuff for the site (I’m watching Mac’s Banging the Waitress as I’m typing this… though less likely to be watching it while you’re reading this).  Sadly though for fans of Sunny, the latest season ended on a rather bittersweet note as it may in fact have been the final appearance of Glenn Howerton’s Dennis Reynolds who is STRONGLY considering leaving the show, despite it getting renewed for at least two more seasons.  Now as much as I’d hate to see him go, I don’t necessarily begrudge him for doing so considering they’ve already done twelve AMAZING seasons, and I hope he has all the success in the world with what he plans to do next which looks to be a show with Patton Oswalt where he plays a disgruntled and malicious high school teacher.  So what does this mean for fans of Sunny?  I have no idea!  Maybe they’ll hold out for him on the off chance this new show fails (the thirteen season has already been pushed back a year), or maybe they’ll try to solider on without him; hoping the remaining four members of the crew can somehow manage the burden of his absence.  For me though, this is a perfect chance to do some fun speculation on possible replacements for Howerton to either fill the void he left or to possibly even turn the show into an entirely new direction.  That is why I have listed my top five BRILLIANT ideas of who they should get to be the new fifth member of the crew, though unfortunately Schmitty is not one of them.  The ranking is mostly in terms of how much I want to see this person (or even persons) show up in the series, but I TRIED to keep the list as practical as possible.  As amazing as it would be to get Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johansson, or Denzel Washington to be fifth member of the crew, I doubt they’ll be picking up Rob McElhenney’s calls anytime soon.

.

5) Topher Grace

SUNNY5

Probably not the first name that comes to mind when trying to fill in an enormous gap on one of the most ingeniously crafted shows of all time, but hear me out!  We all know he played nerdy Eric Foreman for a decade and that he wasn’t all that great in Spider-Man 3, but his filmography since then has been, if not STERLING, at least interesting.  He’s REALLY good at playing slimy characters like in Predators and American Ultra which is more or less a requirement for a show like It’s Always Sunny, but what really makes him seem like a perfect fit is that he naturally exudes a sense of weakness and apathy in his performances which I know doesn’t sound like a complement but fits perfectly with the ethos of the show.  Everyone in that bar, except maybe Frank, has no direction in their life and is living in a perpetual state of denial about everything around them with Mac thinking he’s tough, Charlie thinking he’s quirky instead of a creep, and Dee failing to understand why she’s never achieved her goals (fear of rejection keeps her from making a whole hearted effort at anything).  Look at his performance in the recent Opening Night where his level headed cynicism is clearly a mask for his own insecurities and how the wackiness of everyone backstage continues to push him further and further over the edge.  Now imagine it was the crew that was pushing his buttons the whole time!  The guy seems to be getting regular work in films just outside the mainstream (his most recent role was in a Netflix movie) so I doubt he’s looking to tie himself down to a TV show, but that kind of character coupled with the horror show that is the crew at Paddy’s Pub could make for an interesting dynamic.

Continue reading

Jumping the Soapbox: Looking Back at Los Disneys

LOSDISNEYS0

Los Disneys is the work of artist Jay Kristopher Huddy

The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

People who say to get politics out of video games are idiots.  Even if we take this talking point at face value (spoiler alert: it’s not “politics” they actually want out of video games), it’s a stance only taken by cowards and the ill-informed.  For video games to be seen as a legitimate art form it needs to be free to have thoughts and opinions because art is ALWAYS political to a certain extent, and some of our greatest pieces of creative expression exist to convey a message; not just to look or sound nice.  Now there are still arguments to be had about what constitutes hate speech, how much power platform holders should have in controlling the market, and making sure the wrong games don’t get into the wrong hands (i.e. effective rating systems), but we can’t even get THAT far into the discussion if everyone wants to deploy the ban hammer on the mere IDEA of having something to say.  Are we clear on that?  Good.  Let’s talk about the game where you blow up Disney World.

.

Los Disneys of Former Florida!  Free, Independent, and Ever Expanding!

LOSDISNEYS1

I honestly couldn’t tell you how I came across this game all those years ago (I think I might have been on a Controversial Games kick in high school) but it’s managed to stick with me even now.  This mod of Bungie’s Marathon casts you as a spy infiltrating Disney World (now the capital of the state of Los Disneys) in order to destroy it before they have a chance to take over the world, and while the graphics and gameplay were somewhat archaic even when I first discovered it, the novelty of the well realized location is what drew me in and kept me playing.  On the surface, it’s not all that different from other shock art we’ve seen aimed at Disney (*cough* Air Pirates *cough*), but the narrative is actually quite compelling and the art direction is strong enough that you want to keep pressing forward just to see what you’ll find around the next corner.  Needless to say that Disney wasn’t too happy about all this which garnered a few headlines and only increased the game’s exposure at the time.

Now I always saw it as a merciless take down of Disney’s monolithic place in American (and to a certain extent, worldwide) culture, but then why would you take MY word for it when we can get the answers straight form the horse’s mouth!?  No, not Horace Horsecollar!!  I got in touch with the game’s creator, Jay Kristopher Huddy, and he was nice enough to answer a few questions about his career, the game, and its legacy!

Continue reading

Jumping the Soapbox: Top Ten Revivals Netflix Hasn’t Made Yet

The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

Considering that Netflix has already brought back Wet Hot American Summer, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Arrested Development, Full House, and even Mystery Science Theater 3000, they’re quickly turning into the streaming service equivalent of Peter Pan; collecting lost television shows and movies we don’t want to leave to the sands of time and will gladly pay $9.99 a month to keep on life support.  Now I’ve enjoyed some of the stuff that they’ve Frankensteined back into existence (the new MST3K was actually the first time the series really started to click for me), but where the heck is MY nostalgic revival!?  Yes, I was a fan of Bill Nye too, but there are so many things that they could bring back that will cause me to reflexively empty my wallet and try to shove it into my computer monitor that they haven’t even considered yet!  In fact, let’s just go ahead and name ten of them!  Now the ordering of this list is SOMEWHAT arbitrary as there are LOTS of factors to think about when trying to put these in any sort of order so it’s hard to quantify which one is more important to try and bring back than another.  How much did I like the original show or movie?  How much more can they do with the license if it was brought back?  Will Netflix even have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking this project off the license holder’s hands?  All of which I think makes this a rather interesting (if slightly convoluted) top ten list even if it seems to be somewhat random!  Let’s get started!!

.

10) Jem and the Holograms

NetflixRequests10

Right off the bat, let’s start with a series I’ve never even watched.  I’ve never particularly cared for Jem and the Holograms as a television series, and I CERTAINLY didn’t care for it when Hasbro and Jason Blum put out that cheap and cynical movie that had nothing with the franchise in the first place!  The reason it’s on this list is because of the IDW comic book series created by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell.  Gorgeous artwork, interesting storylines, and believable updates for all the characters are just the tip of the iceberg as far as things this series manages to get right, and while there are some notable differences between the original cartoon and this comic (Jerrica doesn’t own or even co-own Starlight Music), it’s still a fantastic entry point for anyone who was interested in the premise but was turned off the extreme Late Eighties Toy Cartoon aspects of the show.  Now to be fair, Netflix’s history with exclusive animated series hasn’t been the STRONGEST part of their original content, but they seem to have a solid enough relationship with Hasbro already (pretty much all of their animated shows are on there right now) which doesn’t put this outside the realm of possibility.  If nothing else, Hasbro still hasn’t done enough to apologize for that terrible movie, so it’s the least they could do!

Continue reading

Jumping the Soapbox: Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days is Not a Reservoir Dogs Game

JTSBRDBD0

Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days is owned by Big Star Games, Reservoir Dogs The Game is owned by Edios Interactive and Volatile Games, and Reservoir Dogs is owned by Lionsgate

The images you see in this editorial are the property of their respective owners

In 2005, Rockstar Games released a video game adaptation of Walter Hill’s seminal classic The Warriors to overwhelmingly positive reviews for its solid gameplay and interesting take on the characters and world of that movie.  It’s by no means perfect, but it’s probably the best thing that Rockstar released on that console (sorry, but those GTA games don’t hold up nearly as well) and is easily in the upper echelon of movie based video games.  One year later Edios Interactive tried to do something similar when they released a video game adaptation of Reservoir Dogs.  I won’t go so far as to say that the Reservoir Dogs game was inspired by the success of The Warriors (it’s pretty unlikely they would have been able to have knocked this out in less than a year), but it’s certainly in the same vein as that and at the very least I’m guessing Edios were crossing their fingers that some of the good will built up by that movie based game will help this one get some recognition.  Sadly though, the game turned out be… well pretty damn awful.  I can speak from personal experience having bought the game for like three bucks at a dying Blockbuster that the game was an uninspired and boring mess with the only notable feature being the game breaking mechanic of holding someone hostage; resulting in all other enemies dropping their guns and just letting you pass right through.

JTSBRDBD1

Also, playing Paintball in the abandoned warehouse.  Okay…

Continue reading