5 of the Best Episodes from July 2017

Every month brings a collection of great television to add to the lexicon. This a non-exhaustive list of some of those episodes.

1. Adventure Time, “Abstract”

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The ever wonderful Adventure Time returned with a quick Adventure Bomb and it was delightful throughout.

The Standout, and most emotionally potent, was “Abstract,” which dealt with Jake’s (voiced by John DiMaggio) abrupt change in appearance from small and yellow to large, blue, and now has five eyes.

It was all deeply unsettling on an aesthetic level but, in typical Adventure Time fashion, took this as an opportunity to explore the ways in which we ought to respond to the changes that we see in our old friends.

Watch it on Cartoon Network.

2. Wynonna Earp, “She Ain’t Right”

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While the second season of Wynonna Earp has been exceptionally solid, its best episode so has been “She Ain’t Right,” which — I know — was in June, but just barely and I make the rules here.

The way in which this season has explored Waverly’s (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) demonic possession and the amount of ridiculous fun and winking that resulted has been a joy. Plus, Chalkley displaying all of her singing chops was a real treat.

Watch it on SYFY on Fridays at 10/9c.

3. Rick and Morty, “Rickmancing the Stone”

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Rick and Morty is the type of show that you feel you have to watch it at least twice to get all of the jokes and references that are thrown about willy nilly. “Rickmancing the Stone” was no different.

Doing a fantastic riff on Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic films of it ilk, it mined great comedic moments while still working at something emotional at its core.

Watch it on Adult Swim.

4. Danger and Eggs, “The Trio”

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Anything that I could possibly say about “The Trio” has already been said by Kristy Puchko at Pajiba much better than I ever could so I would encourage you to just read that. What I will say, however, is that the subtle politics of this episode is ever-so-important and will be viewed as such with enough time. It is truly exceptional, as is the rest of the series.

Watch the complete first season on Amazon.

5. The Bold Type

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Picking just one episode of The Bold Type feels cruel and something I refuse to put myself through when the entire series so far — and this is helped from all of the episodes airing in July — has been quite excellent.

Serving as an exploration of modern-day feminism, female friendships, and the emergence of political activism in female-centric magazines — a la Teen Vogue’s recent coverage — the best thing you can say about the series is how well it moves. It’s the type of show that the forty-odd minute runtime has come and gone and it feels like you’ve only watched ten minutes. That is a feat in-and-of itself.

The point is: go watch The Bold Type.

Watch it on Freeform and Hulu.

Tales of Westeros: Fifteen possible Game of Thrones spinoffs

Game of Thrones is coming an end. That doesn’t mean that HBO is done with this world that George R.R. Martin has created, however, because they are actively looking for a spin-off to take the series’ place once it ends.

Here are some possibilities that could make good series.

Continue reading at Tell Tale TV.

You’re not watching Steven Universe — But you should be

Steven Universe is the best show on television right now that you’re not watching.

Created by Adventure Time writer Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe follows the titular young character as he navigates growing up, finding his place among a female (sort of) alien team known as The Crystal Gems, and reconciling the memory and legacy of his deceased mother.

If there is one thing that makes Steven Universe important, special, and completely worthy of your time, it’s that Steven Universe the show and the character possess an indomitable optimism and bright-eyed view of the world that is absolutely necessary in this time and place.

The show believes at every turn that everyone, especially your enemies, is worthy of your empathy, compassion, and kindness. No matter the differences or opposing ideologies, there is always a place of understanding at the table of Steven Universe.

Continue reading at Tell Tale TV.

Let’s Talk About This Week’s Steven Bomb

This week, Steven Universe came back from its break to bring us a Steven Bomb, where Cartoon Network airs a new episode every night of the week. This Steven Bomb wasn’t as extensive as some previous ones since this one only lasted for four days. But, in any case, new Steven Universe of any kind is a gift to behold.

With that being that said, however, these series of episodes- “Steven’s Dream”, “Adventures in Light Distortion”, “Gem Heist”, “The Zoo”, and “That Will Be All”- were mildly underwhelming. It was great, in the way that Steven Universe so often is, but these episodes are so devoted to being part of a story arc that it sometimes runs into the danger of losing itself.

The story arc is plainly that Steven (Zach Callison) begins having dreams that leads him and his dad, Greg (Tom Scharpling), to Korea (side note: there’s no mention to North or South Korea. Maybe Korea isn’t divided in this Gem version of reality?)  in search of a Palanquin that might hold answers for Steven. When they arrive, they find Blue Diamond saying goodbye to Pink’s colony Earth and still mourning her having been shattered by Rose. Deciding that she wants to save one last living thing of Pink’s before the Cluster emerges, Blue kidnaps Greg and takes him aboard her hand-ship. Steven and the Crystal Gems realize that she’s taken Greg to a space station called The Zoo, where Gems keep humans for study and general captivity.

The through line of this Steven Bomb was, or should have been, that Steven’s near obsessive desire to search for answers was not only counter-productive but actively did harm to those around him. This is more or less discarded thematically past the first two episodes.

At a certain point, these episodes became much more interested in the world building of the Gems, The Zoo, and Blue Diamond than of the emotional implications of Steven’s rash decisions, which isn’t bad. It just didn’t feel like what it was building to.

The world building itself does bring up an interesting question: the Diamonds, the elitest of elite Gems, believe that the Cluster- the giant bioweapon at the center of the Earth’s core that Steven helped bubble- is still set to emerge and destroy the Earth. At a certain point The Diamonds are going to notice that the Cluster has, in fact, not emerged and the Earth is still there, setting the stage for the Gem War to resume. The Diamonds still don’t have reason or testimony from anyone to suggest that the Crystal Gems are still protecting the Earth, but it’s only a matter of time before Blue or Yellow Diamond finds it suspicious that the Cluster hasn’t emerged and goes to check on it personally. Perhaps this is the end-game of Steven Universe: an all-out war that engulfs the Earth.

There was a lot to love about this Steven Bomb, though, and one needs to look no further than a new song. Existing mostly as a musical lecture on grief from Yellow to Blue Diamond, and seen mostly from Greg and Steven’s point-of-view,  it’s partly a repudiation and also a sobering reminder: you might hate everything that your enemy stands for, but they are still people with emotions that handle loss the same way that you handle loss and not to let that get lost in the shuffle of your own bitterness. Even the harshest of individuals aren’t immune to the shattering (pun not intended) of mourning and grief. The song itself wasn’t one of the best to come from Rebecca Sugar and Co. but it’s emotional conceptually enough that fans might find themselves revisiting it.

This  Steven Bomb wasn’t as emotional, poignant, or profound as some others have been, but it hits a good serialization groove that is able to make up for it.