Posts tagged #reviews

IDW Ghostbusters On-Going (Volume 2) Issue 18 Review

Only two men are capable of making the curled lip look handsome, and Vigo the Carpathian probably isn't one of them... (Courtesy IDW Publishing)

Fritz Baugh returns with his look at the eighteenth installment of IDW's fantastic Ghostbusters on-going comic book series. Have you been reading? You should! Do it while you still can! Here's Fritz...

Well, since the last issue came out, we got a bit of a reprieve. The entire Ghostbusters creative team, joined by Tom Waltz, will follow up issue #36 (V2#20) with a four-issue crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And it's the IDW version of the Turtles, which are pretty faithful to the originals (Kevin Eastman helps write it, after all) and not those ass-ugly "Doctor Rockso" abominations (thanks for that one, Troy) Michael Bay is shoveling on us in the movie theaters right now. And Erik Burnham, on GBFans, hinted that the possibility of a Ghostbusters V3 is not dead;  that'd be neat, of course, but the franchise seems to have a troubled relationship with getting to the third version of something... I guess we'll see...

So where were we?  The Ghostbusters have been split into two groups:

Venkman, Ray, Winston, Janine, Mel, Jenny, Dani, Lou, and All The Rest, are on Hart Island dealing with Vigo the Butch.

Egon and Kylie, meanwhile, are back at GB Central dealing with Dana and Louis, who have been taken back over by Vuul and Zinz Clortho, the Terror Bird minions of Tiamat.

So, first to Venkman and company:

Ron tries to shoot Viggy, but Viggy just kind of laughs it off.  Winston tries the slime blower; again, nothing, but suddenly some glowy whitish tendrils start to grab the undead Carpathian despot.

Ray is missing all of it, by the way-- he's once more been sucked into another narcoleptic episode courtesy of Gozer. It's kind of a disturbing thought--what if it's been Gozer all long, all the way back to the first appearance of the John Belushi spirit guardian thirty-four issues ago?  Or has it been Tiamat all along?  Both ideas seem awfully plausible at this point.

Anyway, the white glowy things are spirits native to Hart Island. They take care of Vigo in return for being left in peace.  Later, when Ray wakes up, he expresses confusion about Vigo--the mood slime only worked last time because they had access to the receptacle of Vigo's spirit--the painting.  Which is about as close as we'll ever get to explaining why he was back there in the Video Game; that must have been an ugly surprise for the museum one day in 1990 or 1991 when their painting of four angels and a cherub turned back into The Sorrow of Moldavia.

Egon and Kylie, meanwhile, aren't having any luck dealing with Vuul and Zinz with the arm blasters (similar to the ones Winston used in "Tainted Love", the first appearance of the new Mrs. Zeddemore), only accomplishing the destruction of the monitor on the reception desk. Yeah, I thought it was funny when Kylie threatened to tell Janine he did that and Egon was all "Please don't." They can just blame it on the Terror Birds, I guess.

Anyway, to free Dana and Louis, Egon and Kylie resort to yet another patented Ghostbuster Risky Plan: tune the ghost traps to the difference in spiritual frequencies etc etc and try to suck the entities out of them. Sensibly, they try it on Zinz first, since Louis is the more expendable of the two-- it works, and a few minutes later Dana and Louis are back to normal (say it with me:  normal being a fairly relative term in this case) while Vuul and Zinz Clortho are on their way to a permanent roosting spot downstairs.

Speaking of the new Mrs. Zeddemore, Tiyah's having dinner with a friend of hers by the name of Kaz Gibbons, who seems to not be really happy for her friend. Kaz is in a wheel chair and, in the first panel she appears in, looks like she might be pregnant. I suspect Kaz is related to Bridget Gibbons from Sanctum of Slime, possibly her Mom, though the baby Kaz might be carrying right now wouldn't be old enough if the timelines work out the way we've been led to:  this being c.1996, and SOS taking place in 2010 or 2011, Bridget would have to have been an awfully early-blooming fourteen year old for that to work.  

The suspicions about Vigo not really being Vigo are only validated when the rest of the team gets back to GB Central-- sure enough, Vigo's still in the painting. Another piece of Tiamat's plan?  As Kylie says later in the issue, what happens when she gets bored with "screwing around" with them?  Good news, Kylie-- only two more issues left to possibly find out!

So next we get a pretty important scene:  Venkman and Dana alone.

There's always been a weird bit of schizophrenia in the franchise's treatment of Venkman and Dana's relationship. On the one hand, it's central to both movies, with Venkman winning Dana's affections, losing them, then winning them again five years later being a central part of his character arc.  On the other hand, mostly due to restrictions imposed by Columbia/Sony, Dana is never seen and rarely even mentioned anywhere else;  "Mass Hysteria"  is only the second time (after the 2004-2005 "Legion" miniseries by 88MPH) that Dana had a role in anything outside a movie or a movie adaptation. That lack of on-screen follow-up is why I can only think of Venkman and Dana as the franchise's "B" couple at best (and there have been times where I'd rank Eduardo and Kylie as more interesting).  

And I'm not sure what to make of the scene. The dialog basically tells us Venkman dumped her this time, not because he didn't care--because he clearly does-- but because he doesn't want Dana pulled into all the nonsense with the paparazzi. He makes a bit of a point, but on the whole...well, I guess this is about the best we can get with threading the needle of Venkman's character arc in the movies and pure licensor politics that have kept Dana away. The scene certainly lessens the "Venkman is a loser" factor, but I can't really call it totally satisfying.

So we end with Egon examining Ray in the colander, while Kylie and Winston speculate about Tiamat's plans and try to keep Louis shut up.  

Oh, and then Ray levitates, his eyes glow red, and he starts sparking like he was one of the Scoleri brothers.

This... is really, really not good.

(sigh)  And only two (or six) more to go

Girl Meets World S1E2 - "Girl Meets Boy" Review

Pay no attention to the near college-aged kid on the far left… it's not quite illegal. Yet. (Courtesy

I've had a lot of reservations about the new Girl Meets World, a sequel that of the 1990s ABC TGIF show that picks up with former kids Corey and Topanga dealing with now being parents themselves. Especially after an overly saccharine Disney Channel TV spot confirmed fears that the show was going to be more of the same from Disney Channel and not exactly a harkening back to the glory days that ABC ruled the airwaves on Friday nights.

Admittedly, part of the resentment might stem from the realization of my own sheer mortality. Yes, it's a bit strange to see the characters who were elementary school aged kids at the same time that you were now as the teacher/parent roles on a spin-off of the same series. But I was also worried that the toothpaste commercial "hey, buy a bunch of songs off this Disney Channel Radio Pop Star's Album" show invading series creators' Michael Jacobs and April Kelly real vision was in store.

This weekend, I caught the first two episodes back to back and the pilot had me worried. All of my fears seemed to be realized, it was the same over-saturated hyper-real Disney Channel fodder that makes me never want to have kids. When my wife walked in during the closing moments of the show, she asked my thoughts (she had watched the episode previously on one of her days off) and I mentioned that it just felt strange. Something was just off. And where was Mr. Feeny? Granted, William Daniels who has been my hero since he quipped back and forth with David Hasselhoff is nearing 90 years old… yeah… let that sink in for a minute or two. But it seemed strange not having him there to get things kicked off on the right foot. Sure enough, he pops up for a brief fleeting moment at the end of the episode during one of the stranger sequences of the pilot. For that reason going into the second episode, I had zero expectations for the show other than for it to be white noise while I did other things on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The second episode "Girl Meets Boy" had me intrigued, at least at first. Centering around the students' reliance on cell phones, the premise was something right out of TGIF. Changes and tweaks were made from the pilot going into the second episode, for example Maya (played by Sabrina Carpenter)'s overly sexual and incredibly creepy and off-putting make-up was toned down, thankfully. And overall, the second episode felt less stilted and more like a classic throwback to the 90s than the pilot did.

A funny, but a little alarming comedic moment comes when the kids enter a library and aren't quite sure what to do with a stack of books. I get that digital technology has replaced research and reading in 90% of applications, but I'm hoping that kids haven't completely become inept in a library. A legitimate Amblin-era giggle was elicited from me when an elderly librarian shushed the kids and their reaction was an in-unison "DAH!?!?!"

But the biggest reaction that I had to the series' second episode was just how creepy it is that the show has chosen to cast a male "romantic" lead who is three or four years older than everyone around him. Lucas (played by Peyton Meyer) may have the One Direction boy band charm that every male Disney Channel star is required to exude. But when he's standing next to anyone else in his classroom, it's a little on the side of creepy. The episode focuses on a budding relationship with he and Corey/Topanga's daughter Riley played by Rowan Blanchard, who is 12 years old both behind and on camera. But standing next to the driving aged Peyton Meyer, you get a really gross feeling as the two of them eyeball each other akin to when one of your friends suddenly sparks an interest to your younger sister.

"The guy looks like a date rapist! Is that my jacket?" - If Brodie Bruce was in Girl Meets World.

I'm not completely oblivious to the production process, I know that it's preferable to cast old to look young. But that's the problem. This guy was cast to be the dreamy-eyed, bed haired love interest but he looks old enough to be babysitting all the kids. Especially given how young and precocious Riley has been cast to be, you just want to reach through the screen and protect her.

Other observations: the little brother Auggie, played by August Maturo steals the show. Farkle, played by Corey Fogelmanis) has potential to be the new Steve Urkel in terms of how quickly his "charm" will get old and he starts to overstay his welcome. 

But bottom line, while overall the show still oozes Disney Channel it does have those glimpses of the Touchstone Television/ABC-era which is what I had hoped it would have. It's too bad that major audiences are too cynical now and a show like this can't fly on national networks so that the Disney Channel qualities of the show could be toned down immensely. But if the show runners are able to wade the Disney Channel waters and really hone this show into what it can and should be, it might actually be a fun watch for families with as much entertainment value as its predecessor.

Posted on July 14, 2014 and filed under TV.

IDW Ghostbusters On-Going (Volume 2) Issue 17 Review

Fritz Baugh continues his reviews of the IDW Ghostbusters on-going series for Still Playing with Toys, here's Fritz with the latest - spoilers are abound, so you've been warned...

It seems a bit pyrrhic now, with the news that #20 (#36 in the total on-going series) will be the last issue of the series. But with #17, we reach a double milestone of endurance.  In addition to finally getting a #17, something that hasn't happened to an American Ghostbusters comic since 1989, the total issues of IDW's ongoing series now beat the number of issues of NOW Comics' ongoing series.  16+17=33.  28+4=32.  Sure, I could add in the 3-D Special (which was effectively Now's V2#0), the Annual, and the 3-D Annual, but that still means IDW will beat them with #20.

I think that's a big part of why this commentary is so late-- knowing I'll only be doing it three more times after this makes me want to hold onto it just a little bit.  Like I'm prolonging it somehow.  But I'm really not so here we go:

As "Mass Hysteria" begins it's second half, we're with Ray, Venkman, and Winston on the ECTO-8, where Ray is having another dream sequence with a ghost that looks suspiciously like John Belushi... but then it turns, just before Venkman slaps him awake, into Slavitza Jovan.  This... doesn't seem like an auspicious sign, does it?

Now awake, we see that in addition to the three regulars are Mel, Whatzisface, Ron, and Ron's three former fellow Ghostsmashers, now sporting flight suits in the Ghostbuster style, but with the Ghostsmasher logo and the nametags in Ghostsmasher purple.  Why are they there?  Oh, you know, Vigo's escaped from the painting (which they never explained how he popped back into in the first place) and he's apparently on Hart Island.  

Egon and Kylie, meanwhile, are studying Dana and Louis, and Dana makes small talk by asking Egon about Janine.  Egon dodges, and Dana mentions Janine dodges those questions too.  Hah-- Dana's only really been in the loop twice over the last 10 years, and even she notices.

God damn it, I hope we get some resolution in the next three issues.

Anyway, back at Hart, Ray is having another narcoleptic episode, and this time he sees Pee Wee Herman, and then the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  If it's not Gozer trying to talk to him, it's certainly something trying to convince him it is Gozer. 

GBHQ:  Egon and Kylie realize that Vuul and Zinz Clortho are still hiding inside Dana and Louis.

Hart Island:  Vigo shows up, and he's brought the Scoleri Brothers.  This is really mystifying--we saw those two assholes get sucked into ghost traps, and presumably taken downstairs and flushed into the Containment Unit.  Ray certainly thinks they should still be there.  It's enough to make one wonder... anyway, Vigo the Butch is especially mad at Venkman, probably for trying to paint that fluffy white kitten into the painting near the castle.  We know you miss Snowball, Vigo, but don't take it out on our heroes!

... Especially after Ray gets into another conversation with Pee-Wee Gozer, and images of Zuul, Vinz Clortho, and Idulnas appear.  Idulnas... you know, last we saw of that guy, he was being dragged off by the Peoplebusters/Collectors... while the Ghostbusters were the first beings to escape them, it doesn't mean they're the last.

GBHQ:  Kylie sprays Dana and Louis with mood slime in hopes of driving out Vuul and Zinz Clortho... but it doesn't work.  It not only doesn't work, it allows the servants of Tiamat to re-dominate the pair, turn them back into giant bird-things, and go on the attack!

This... is really not good.

Another solid issue.

(sigh) And only three more to go.

Slink Back to the Shadows Before Someone Notices

They really WANT to be the Turtles that you're familiar with and love… but something's just not quite right.

First, some disclaimers. I've adored the TMNT since all those Saturday mornings ago and have absolutely bought into the new animated Nickelodeon series and its style. It's irreverence but also respect for the source material is incredibly admirable. So when I heard that there was an old-school beat 'em up style TMNT game based on the animated series on its way, I couldn't help be giddy.

But the game, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is a strange amalgamation of the Nickelodeon cartoon with elements from the classic 80s and 90s shows and films… with the character designs from Michael Bay's soon to be released film (which I don't exactly love). The storyline is set within the Nickelodeon show, but why do the characters have the grotesque nostril-present design from Bay's "remagining?" It's all very confusing.

I gave the trial download a spin, which I know is never indicative of the final version of the game, but I think that's where my play of TMNT: OOTS will come to an end. The game is a relatively cheap buy at $14.99 and a few minutes in, you realize why this isn't a AAA title. The cutscenes are a strange comic art reminiscent of those created for Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime (interestingly the game is developed by Red Fly Studios, the company behind the PS2 and Wii versions of Ghostbusters: The Video Game). The voice actors are a strange soundalike crew of the Nickelodeon show, which feels like a missed opportunity.

It's a shame because you can tell that the developers wanted to put their heart and souls into this game. Added touches like the "Turtle Power" song from the original New Line live-action film to greet you and fun added bonus around the Turtle Lair give hints and nods to what could have been. In fact, a great interview that I tracked down with the lead designer Chris Frechette at the Turtlepedia attests to the fact that they wanted to pour their love of the series into the game.

But the end result is a cheap feeling beat 'em up with essentially the same mechanics as the GameCube game that I enjoyed the crap out of ten plus years ago… but had the same issues with then: a lot of button mashing and combos aren't enough to keep you entertained for more than a few minutes. But given the $15 price tag, maybe that's what this identity confused game was cobbled together to be.