Obligatory 2022 TV Catch-Up

There were a few TV shows I watched last year that I wanted to give my thoughts on but simply never got around to doing full reviews of. It’s not really a secret that TV is kind of the outlier on this blog, with the main focus being films and gaming, but I do like a good TV chat every now and again. So I thought here I’d sumerise my thoughts on a handful of shows I’d have liked to reviewed.

The Boys Season 3

I’m a big fan of The Boys and have been since season 1, although I’ve not read the comics at all. It seemed to be the first piece of superhero media that not only parodied and commentated on the current superhero landscape in cinema, but did so in such a way that wasn’t hypocritical. Because, sure, Deadpool is self aware and makes jokes about how silly the genre is… But then does those things itself in a very not self-aware way moments later. Like, you can’t say something’s rubbish and then do that thing under the assumption that because you acknowledged it was rubbish, that you yourself are not also rubbish for doing it. She Hulk (more on that later) did the same thing. Meanwhile the Boys actually offered alternatives to that by sticking to it’s guns and not giving in… For the most part.

Season 3 represents a slight decline for the series in this regard. There’s a tighter focus on action and, specifically, superhero action that takes away from a lot of the previously established assumptions of The Boys universe. For example, I had always assumed Homelander to be so powerful that if even the next strongest person on Earth decided to fight him, they’d just die in a nanosecond. But not we get to see not only Queen Meave fighting him – perhaps the most believable person in the show capable of doing so – but also Hughie and Butcher dosed up on Compound V. It takes away from the threat of Homelander knowing that if the other six members of the Seven just teamed up for five seconds, they could knacker him. And I think that’s irreparably damaged that part of the show for me.

Which is a shame because the show is also getting sloppy in other areas now too – whereas literal heists and b-plots had once been committed to the idea of one getting their hands on Compound V, it can now just be obtained in a short five second scene of someone walking in and out of a room.

I still enjoyed the season overall, but everything good felt like it came with an annoying caveat about why I shouldn’t like it. Suffice to say I hope the next season is better.

She Hulk

On the note of superhero commentary’s, She Hulk basically admits the whole MCU is a dumpster fire by accident in what it thinks is a self aware finale, but is ultimately just a signal that you wasted your time watching it. The ending to She Hulk has her jumping into the Disney+ home screen, climbing Marvel HQ and demanding a meeting with Kevin Feige. She tells Feige, a robot designed to make formulaic movies, that the ending he wrote for her about fighting a guy who stole her blood to make himself a Hulk was rubbish and she wants a new one… So the ending of the show changes on a dime. So, not only has every other episode of the show working towards this end been an utter waste of your time – literally meaningless in the eyes of it’s own script – but the show has also admitted it’s own build up that it spent several hours of your time on was trash.

I think the idea was for them to be like “we understand what the audience wants now“, but instead what we got was “look, I know all this was a bit rubbish, but we made a joke about it, so now it’s not rubbish… right?“. Now, I’m all for media poking fun at itself but if you deconstruct yourself down to the level that you say Kevin Feige is literally an unfeeling robot designed to reel in as much cash as possible, it starts to stop being fun and becomes a creepy wink that it’s actually not-so-far-from-the-truth. You can deconstruct tired tropes and concepts – Mary Sue’s, superhero landings, damsel’s in distress and other lame conventions of the genre – but undoing your own script because the main character openly says it’s bad and then to try to play it off as a joke is just… dumb. I mean Blazing Saddles is often hailed as a brilliant self aware parody, but I doubt anyone people would say it helped the Western genre, so much as it started digging the grave by showing everyone how silly things were getting. And while that may have been intentional by Mel Brooks, the same was not intentional by the writers of She Hulk. She Hulk seems to be working under the assumption that this sort of commentary is done to invigorate a genre, which is ironically what you would expect a bunch of robotic and out of touch studio execs (which She Hulk claims to understand) to say.

A bit too out of touch for me, and too concerned with being a PR advert than a decent show. It’s one very rare scenario where I might have proffered the usual superhero tropes and stereotypical arcs.

Stranger Things Season 4

I was highly cynical going into this season since the series has been slowly but surely leaning into becoming complete schlock episode by episode since the end of Season 1. The cast is so large that there are so many b-plots to follow that I started losing my mind in season 3. I’d generally sit down and enjoy one or two arcs to the maximum, while remaining so detached from the others that they may as well not have been there.

Season 4 sort of fixes that. I think every b-plot is better because, well, every plot is now treated with the same respect as the a-plot. Sounds messy and confused, but with a cast this large and story this ambitious it sort of works in the same way that Avengers Infinity War shouldn’t really work, but actually does.

The only plot I didn’t like was the stuff in Russia. Every other plot interacts with the story of a psycho murder killing kids around town from another dimension. The Russia plot exists because the writers killed Hopper in the end of Season 3 and revealed him to be alive in a post credit scene. Not a single bit of it in the slightest interacts with the main story until the tail end of the final episode. It’s a colossal waste of time made to appease a plot point from the previous season that shouldn’t have even happened if they were going to undo it moments later, and waste our time with it in this season.

Russia aside, I would say this is the best the show has been since the first season. I like the return to a horror/investigative tone over exaggerated ghost-busters tone season 3 went for.

I also like that the kids hang out together more in bigger groups. It makes them feel like a team, and the revel they’ve been accidentally working towards the same end goal feel less like a whimsical coincidence and more like a concentrated effort. Nancy has had a character revival, as have some of the others who were side lined after the first season in favour of whoever was next.

Overall, though not without issues, a successful season and I’m excited for what comes next.

Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared

If this show sounds familiar, it’s because it started out as a YouTube skit channel. It parodied children’s TV using the same sort of puppet characters and colourful set designs to communicate depressing truths about adulthood in a comedic way. Much to my surprise they made it into a TV show and I couldn’t resist watching.

The characters aren’t named by the way – they always refer to each other at “that one” or “the other one” – so the only thing I’ll be able to call the main cast are the duck, the yellow one and the red one.

My favourite episode, I think, is when the duck reads in the newspaper that he has died and then someone comes along to kill him. They insist he is dead and to lay in a coffin where he is to be buried alive in front on his friends. The Duck is actually quite excited about it, but has a lot of questions about what it means to be dead that no one will give him straight answers to.

It’s hard to communicate why the show, and these bizarre premises are funny. I think it’s because it’s not edgy like a lot of other adult programs that use the aesthetic of children’s TV. You won’t catch these characters making sex jokes or cursing for the easiest laugh possible, where the humour is only derived from a children’s character doing a naughty adult piece of behaviour. Instead, it’s the show’s commitment that these characters remain childlike no matter how dark the subject matter becomes that makes it funny.

In one episode they learn how to use a computer and it starts with the sort of on the nose infomercial stuff you’d expect a kids show to go through – a charismatic worm character enters and begins talking them through the very basics of logging in and using programs. But it soon becomes apparent they don’t like him, and pick on him to the point where he leaves the episode to live inside the head of the yellow one, who is normally the one they pick on when he’s not around. The red one and duck see the worm enter his brain, but still spend the rest of the episode putting what they learnt to use so they can effectively google why their friend is now comatose. When the search engine asks them if their friend has a worm in their brain, and they respond yes, it then diagnoses their friend with having a worm in their head. Then they start to panic and think of a way to get it out.

I won’t explain this any more. Explaining the joke doesn’t make it funny, after all, and it’s a genuinely good show I’d encourage you to check out for yourselves.

Wrap Up

That’s it for the shows I watched this year and didn’t get around to reviewing individually. I normally try to prioritise game and film reviews over TV, but there might be a couple of TV show reviews popping up as, since starting this blog in 2021, I’m running a little light on games.

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