Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue: Relocation, Recreation, ODST, and Holiday Plans

Artwork by Usbaia and cawico7

Red vs Blue and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Rooster Teeth

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Much like the Halo franchise itself, Red Vs Blue definitely started to branch out around the time of Halo 3’s release; not just because the engine allowed for much greater control and possibilities for the show to work with but because Rooster Teeth themselves wanted to start fresh and gave us its best work after breaking away from Blood Gulch.  Can they continue that success going forward, or will the temptation to return to what worked in the past be too great for them to resist?  Let’s find out!!

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Red Vs Blue: Relocation

Relocation is a four part mini-series to bridge the gap between Reconstruction and the next season Recreation as it follows Red Team trying to establish their new base while Caboose is working on some secret project at his new base.  If you’re really in the mood for some breezy Blood Gulch comedy then it does the job fine and frankly holds up better than a lot episodes from that original run, but by going back once again to the two teams in a valley setup (this time they’re using the Valhalla map instead of Blood Gulch) it feels like little more than filler to tide fans over while they work on the next season.

“Look at how high up we can put you now!” “OKAY, BUT WHY AM I UP HERE!?” “The technology is SO amazing, wouldn’t you agree?” “HEEEELP!!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue: Relocation, Recreation, ODST, and Holiday Plans”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue: Reconstruction

Artwork by Usbaia and cawico7

Red vs Blue and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Rooster Teeth

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

It’s probably no coincidence that all things Halo peaked for me while I was in high school with not just Halo 3 being an amazing video game but this season of Red Vs Blue feeling like the evolution that the series needed to go in.  I remember finishing my assignments early in some sort of extracurricular drafting class or something and episodes of this season in my free time which in hindsight proved to be a far better use of my time than that class ever was.  I mean it’s not like I used any of those skills in any of the jobs I’ve gotten since then, and here I am today telling you all about a web series from the pre-Obama years!  Perhaps it’s more of an indictment on our education system than anything else, but we’re not exactly in a position to fix America’s problems today.  Instead, let’s see if my favorite season of the show still holds up to this day!  Let’s get started!

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Red vs Blue: Reconstruction (2008)

Reconstruction was definitely a turning point in the Red Vs Blue franchise even if the next season or two that I saw did go more towards the Blood Gulch Chronicle style of wacky sitcom setups, there was still a stronger emphasis on story and characters that was started here.  We pick up about a year after Recovery One and Season 5 where Agent Washington is sitting in on a soldier’s debrief as they describe a harrowing situation at their base.  It seems that Tex’s ship didn’t just blow up at the end of Season 5, but was heavily damaged and ended up crashing on another Red Vs Blue training area where the Omega AI (AKA O’Malley) ran roughshod over the troops there; taking over their minds and forcing them to destroy their own equipment so they couldn’t even call for help.  Eventually, the monster that attacked Washington in Recovery One, the thing that was stealing Freelancer AIs, arrived and left only one survivor after taking Omega.  It’s clear that this monster, which they refer to as The Meta, must be stopped and will no doubt be going after South Dakota for the Delta AI which puts Washington in a unique position to get his revenge on her for betraying him back in Recovery One while doing the Freelancer organization a solid that’ll perhaps put him back in their good graces.  Still, before he can effectively track this thing, he needs to learn about the Omega AI that the Meta now has, and there are only a few people in the galaxy who know much about it.  Sad to say for Washington, he bites off more than he can chew as the two people he manages to recruit for this operation are Caboose and Church; long separated after Blood Gulch was disbanded and at least one of them is far from happy to be here, but at long as the trail might lead to Tex, then perhaps it’s a journey worth taking.

“And I would walk five-hundred miles-”     “Caboose…”     And I would walk five-hundred more-”     “Caboose, shut up.”     “Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles-”     “CABOOSE!!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue: Reconstruction”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue Season 5, Out of Mind, and Recovery One

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Red vs Blue and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Rooster Teeth

Red vs Blue began in 2003 and it swiftly became a phenomenon with mainstream success, DVD releases, and I’m pretty sure they played episodes of it on the G4 network when that was still a thing.  With the popularity of this series rising as fast as Halo’s popularity, it may seem like a strange idea for them to close the book on The Blood Gulch Chronicles after five seasons, but it was soon clear that Rooster Teeth wasn’t saying goodbye to the series; just this version of it.  So today we’ll be looking at the final season of the show as well as its early attempts to expand the franchise and build on its lore to see the groundwork for future seasons.  Does the show end with a bang, or was it clear they need to take things in a new direction sooner rather than later?  Let’s get started!!

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Season 5 – 2006-2007

The Blood Gulch Chronicles is a perfect parabola of quality as the series reaches its peak at season three and goes downhill at about the same rate.  Where season 1 was rather primitive and a bit too mean spirited for me, it at least had the excuse of being a brand new thing from a group of inexperienced creatives so there was naturally going to be a learning curve.  Season five on the other hand, despite having four seasons of experience behind it, just feels like a total regression of all the series’ biggest bugbears.  The humor in particular is utterly obnoxious as we’re right back to sniping at each other with every offhand comment or very simple statement of clarification followed by someone calling them stupid, fat, girly, etc.  Donut as a character thankfully doesn’t regress to his per-season 4 self, but boy does everyone else lay into him a lot more here and it’s never funny.  Perhaps the worst addition is Griff’s sister who is a one dimensional “dumb blonde” stereotype only on hand to act ditzy and be a sexual object for everyone to lust after at the expense of Griff.  She doesn’t even get a name!  She’s just called Sister throughout the season!  The whole season is painfully misogynistic with Church in particular throwing out barbs at both Sister and Tex, and the writing for the two women on hand (excluding Sheila the tank) is just lacking in any sort of wit which is a shame because it’s clear that Tex is a HUGE piece of the ongoing story once we finally get out of Blood Gulch.

“GIRLY THINGS!”     “Hey, we’ve already got Donut for that!”     “Yeah, but that joke ran its course two seasons ago.”     “Clearly you haven’t learned the finer points of beating a dead horse!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue Season 5, Out of Mind, and Recovery One”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red vs Blue Season 4 & Halo Zero

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

On the day of its release, Halo 2 solve over five hundred thousand copies and would go on to sell over eight million copies by the end of 2008; making it the biggest game to ever get released on the original Xbox.  If it wasn’t clear already by the swaths of dedicated nerds sitting by payphones to get cryptic clues only tangentially related to the franchise, this cemented Halo as a HUGE franchise with a powerful presence in the video game industry.  We already talked about Red vs Blue season 3 which was the first to use the Halo 2 engine and today we’ll be looking at the fourth season as well as another noticeable fan made project that came out in the wake of the sequels’ overwhelming success.  Let’s get started!!

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Red vs Blue Season 4 – 2005-2006

Red vs Blue is owned by Rooster Teeth

Going into this season I had a few ideas about it based on my half-remembered recent viewing; at least the show is going on an adventure for part of it, but it’s disappointing that we’re back at Blood Gulch with the Reds.  Watching it again, I kind of felt the opposite as the Reds are pretty darn funny despite having no direction and literally going back to where they started, and the Blue team is honestly kind of dreadful despite the attempts to do something new.  The addition of Andy the Bomb in particular just drags all the humor down to the gutter where we’re back to pointlessly sniping at each other and throwing off lazy offensive barbs.  It’s such a shame because the status quo change in the third season could have really led this series into a new direction, but it’s just more of the same and frankly a bit backwards on top of it.  Thankfully the Reds don’t rely as much on that and they have some genuinely fun and silly story arcs; the big one being Simmons who got driven out of Red Team and joins up with Sheila at the abandoned Blue Base to mount a panicked revenge scheme against his former allies.  They have a lot of fun with Simmons’s sense of confidence and emotional security getting shattered by Sarge firing him, and Sheila makes a great foil as she’s a constant threat throughout the season; just one bad comment or one ill-timed scheme away from ending this conflict in a bloody blaze of glory.  It’s definitely going back to the series’ roots after taking such a long detour and for the most part they succeed even if it all feels a bit too familiar.  They at least have GENUINELY good material to work with instead of the Blues who are just getting on each other’s nerves   Even Donut’s character is somewhere better as he’s a bit toned down.  It’s far less innuendo and girly behavior than it is naiveté and exuberance which I found much funnier, though they can’t help themselves from pushing it a bit too far and knocking you over the head with his sexuality in a mocking manner.

“My vengeance will be felt across the entire canyon!  NOTHING BUT DEVASTATION AND WOE!!”     “Firing main canon.”     “ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME!?”     “Updating target.”     “Okay, never mind!  Jeez…”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red vs Blue Season 4 & Halo Zero”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red vs Blue Season 2 & 3

Red vs Blue and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Rooster Teeth

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

We’re back with our Halo retrospective, and once again we’re talking about something that isn’t technically part of the series!  After the success of season one, the folks over at Rooster Teeth knew they had something big on their hands and started right away on Season two.  The second and third seasons both released in 2004 (season 3 finished up in early 2005) so we’ll be looking at both back to back as the Blood Gulch Chronicles grows from a bunch of people bickering in a canyon to those same people bickering in different places!  Let’s get started!

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Red vs Blue Season 2 – 2004

By season two they had a better grasp on the concept and the characters which leads to some fun and unexpected story beats, but for every place that they manage to improve it just shines a spotlight on the places they don’t budge an inch.  I wasn’t keeping count, but they did lessen their overall use of the R-word and the more mean-spirited bickering is less omnipresent.  However, there are still some issues throughout the season that hold this series back; particularly the way they pumped the gay jokes up to eleven.  Donut is not without his fun moments, but the joke being that he embodies what the writers think is funny about gay people (the pink armor, jokes about girly things, etc) is a constant thorn in this series’ side throughout its first five seasons.

“I’m super!  Thanks for asking!”     “I didn’t ask.”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red vs Blue Season 2 & 3”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red vs Blue Season 1

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Today we’ll be taking our first detour into non-official fan works as opposed to licensed material, though Red vs Blue is definitely something that fits in the gray area of which we’ll see more of the further we get into this retrospective.  In any case, it’s no surprise that Halo generated a lot of fan made content considering how successful it was at release and how much Microsoft and Bungie pushed it as THE NEXT BIG THING, and Red vs Blue in particular is inalterably tied into the franchise and I’d say is more than a little responsible for having such an enduring presence in the industry.  Its place in entertainment history is definitely secured, but does the show itself still hold up to this day?  Let’s find out as we look at the first season!!

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Red vs Blue and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Rooster Teeth

Red vs Blue is a Machinima series (i.e. a narrative show using gameplay footage) created by Rooster Teeth depicting two teams who are fighting for control of a dirt canyon of no particular significance and was created using the Halo games.  On Red Team we have the delusional yet slightly competent Sarge, the lazy yet somewhat sensible Griff, the genuinely smart Simmons who’s also a total brown nose for Sarge, and the new recruit Donut who ends up getting pink armor because this was made back when something like that was considered hilarious.  On Blue Team we have interim team leader Church who’s a HUGE jerk but kind of the main character of the series, the fun yet ALSO lazy Tucker, and the very ignorant Caboose who’d be like if Ed from Ed, Edd, n Eddy grew up to join Space Force.  Throughout the first season we learn more about the teams as well as get introduced to secondary characters like Lopez the Red team’s robot mechanic, Sheila the Blue Team’s talking tank, and Tex the freelancer hired by the Blue Team with a checkered past that ties directly to Church’s.  Compared to where the series will end up going on later seasons, the first is fairly self-contained and can be broken down into three primary arcs; Donut getting the Blue Team’s flag, Tex getting Blue Team’s flag back, and Tex going after Red Team’s flag, but for the most part the actual plot is secondary to the characters’ personalities bouncing off of each other in a ludicrous combat situation; kind of like what Archer would eventually do with the spy genre a decade later.  Needless to say that with all the silly situations, potty mouths, and it being a cool VIDEO GAME thing, I was pretty obsessed with this show when I was a teenager, but there were a lot of things I liked when I was a teenager that don’t hold up now, so is this one of them?

EVERYTHING’S FINE! NO PROBLEMS HERE!!
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red vs Blue Season 1”