best ensemble casts

6

The Americans (2013 – ∞ )

If you want to actually experience life, then you’ve got to stop being so reasonable all the time, you’ve got to stop hoping things are just gonna get better, and you’ve got to accept what you’ve got.

7

Hidden Figures (2016)

Directed by Theodore Melfi

Cinematography by Mandy Walker

Watch on bitchinjanes.tumblr.com

David Harbour gives speech (and tells us all to punch Nazis in Jim Hopper’s honour) after Stranger Things wins best Drama Ensemble Cast at SAG!!!

I’m honestly crying, just look at Winona’s reactions throughout the speech lmao

LIW Review: Nothing Much To Do

Posted (late) in honor of the third anniversary of the first episode on March 26th. 

Nothing Much To Do has been the gold standard in literary-inspired webseries for close to three years. The series won eight out of ten awards (best supporting actress, best costume and set design, best ensemble cast, the honorary award, best script, best actress, best actor, and best LIW) at the first-ever literary-inspired webseries awards in 2015.

NMTD was created by The Candle Wasters, a group of four young women from New Zealand who decided they’d like to create a Shakespeare adaptation. They chose Much Ado About Nothing and set it at Messina High School in Auckland, New Zealand, where Beatrice Duke has moved to stay with her cousin Hero while her parents are in Australia. Bea decides to take up vlogging, and that’s where the story starts.

Plot Overview:

Beatrice Duke’s parents move to Australia, and she chooses to spend her last year of high school at Messina High with her dear cousin Hero, her old friend Pedro, her arch nemesis Benedick, and the rest of the gang. Hero has a crush on soccer goalie Claudio, and when it starts looking like things might be on track for the pair of them, the characters decide, led by Pedro, to get Beatrice and Benedick together. The result is a romantic comedy musical of Shakespearean proportions, with the occasional flamingo or bathtub thrown in, just for good measure.

Format:

The series takes place across three YouTube channels, all of which are essential for understanding the entire story. The main channel is Nothing Much To Do, home to Beatrice and Hero’s weekly vlogs. Once he sees Beatrice doing it, Benedick decides to take up vlogging as well. His channel is called benaddicktion. The third channel, Watch Projects, is home to Ursula’s film projects, Verges and Dogberry’s detective show, and Balthazar’s music videos.

Realism:

NMTD was the first webseries in which all of the content on all YouTube channels was equally important to the plot. The description boxes on every video were written in character and were often as important as the content of the videos themselves (see “An Ode” and “one foot on sea one on shore one in the boiling hot lava”). The titles of the videos also reflect the personalities the person uploading them (Benedick, for example, gives all his videos one-word titles that are thematically linked in his mind to the contents of said video). 

The Candle Wasters stayed up late to upload videos when the characters would have. The characters interacted with the audience (and once with each other) in the comments section. Beatrice also had a Twitter account, Hero had an Instagram, and Ursula had a Tumblr, and the transmedia supplemented the story but was not necessary for understanding it. 

Also, these people act both like the characters in the play and like actual high schoolers, which is rare in any sort of adaptation, much less one with no budget.

Representation/Diversity:

The only non-white character is Ursula, who is of Asian descent, but the LGBTQ+ representation is strong, especially for 2014. Hero and Leo have two moms, who are off on their belated honeymoon for the duration or the series. Balthazar is openly gay (though he never actually uses that word). There’s also another semi-surprising and very satisfying coming out in one of the final episodes.

Film Quality:

Astonishingly good for not having a budget, because The Candle Wasters put in the extra effort to borrow good film equipment and to edit skillfully.

My three favorite things about NMTD:

1) Benedick’s bathtub vlogs

2) The music. Seriously. These people deserve many awards for the music in this show.

3) “one foot on sea one on shore one in the boiling hot lava” – you have to watch it to know why.

While I personally don’t find any faults in this webseries, there are a few things about it that are difficult for other people. The Candle Wasters have a hatred of exposition, so a lot of background information is late, vague, or nonexistent. It can also be hard to understand all of what’s going on if you don’t read the video descriptions, which is an extra step not required by many other webseries. Racial diversity, as I said, is low, but considering the resources The Candle Wasters had at the time, I can’t fault them for that. Besides, every last one of their casting choices was perfect. 

The verdict:

NMTD takes a famous Shakespeare play and, while staying completely true to the story, manages to bring in discussions of slut-shaming, create queer representation that doesn’t even go against canon, AND make the whole thing a musical. They explored the vlogseries format almost to its limits. And the characters are just so loveable. 

I would recommend this webseries to anyone and everyone with any interest in Shakespeare, feminism, musicals, literary-inspired webseries, or a whole load of other things. My love for NMTD is eclipsed only by my love for the sequel, Lovely Little Losers, so stay tuned for that review soon.

5/5 stars. And I probably won’t be giving out many of those.

Wow, that got long. I wouldn’t have written a review this long for anything else, I swear.

Starring:

Harriett Maire @harriettstella as Beatrice Duke, aka Queen of the World

Pearl Kennedy as Hero Duke, her cousin, “practically perfect in every way”

Jake McGregor @jakeasaurus–rex as Benedick Hobbes, Brit, Whovian, bird enthusiast

Matthew J. Smith as Claudio, long-time bachelor and soccer player extraordinaire

Caleb Wells as Pedro Donaldson, “all round great guy”

George Maunsell as John Donaldson, Pedro’s shifty half brother

Holly Parkes as Verges, has to wear the suspenders to prevent the Devil from infiltrating her

David Hannah as Dogberry, Sherlock fan and adorable little muffin

Jessica Stansfield as Margaret “Meg,” aka Queen of Scream

John Burrows as Robbie, Meg’s boyfriend

Reuben Hudson as Balthazar, the most adorable, precious, talented, non-confrontational person in all of webseries history

Lucie Everett-Brown as Cora, John’s shifty friend

Tina Pan as Ursula, lovely girl behind the camera

Alex MacDonald as Leo, older brother of Hero and coach of the soccer team

Created by The Candle Wasters @thecandlewasters

Running time: 

Approximately five hours

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ4M4eic7acSLgM6Fs_VYWafCgwIByldy

Or here with links to the transmedia elements:https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1e5Y1TM2sDnE5SuaBl6Y9fFm3F2d9eptde0PjUTwN3oY/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g617374c14_124

7

The Beguiled (2017)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd

I can’t believe that the same studio/franchise that made X-Men: Apocalypse and Wolverine: Origins also made Deadpool and Logan. Like, just the absolutely whiplash (whiiiiip…laaassshhhh) in tone and quality is mindboggling. 

The DC Cinematic Universe: Basically everything is pretty shitty and the stories make no sense and never quite resonate emotionally, but there’s some cool action sequences and overall good casting decisions (I mean, Ben Affleck IS the best live-action Batman of recent memory, and Gal Gadot is a treat to watch as Wonder Woman.) And I do kinda like Zach Snyder’s action directing. I mean–he really gets that these characters are larger than life and basically mythical gods. I don’t mind that Wonder Woman looks like she stepped off the set of 300. 

The MCU: You’ll never leave the theater wanting your money back. Marvel is always up for a good time, and they’ve done a great job developing multiple characters over many movies and sub-franchises. Definitely the best ensemble-cast of any active superhero franchise. It’s been a treat to watch Chris Evans grow as Captain America. 

The Fox/X-Men Cinematic Universe: Never as consistently good as MCU, and when it’s bad, it’s about as bad as Man of Steel (*shudders*). BUT WHEN IT’S GOOD. DAMN, SON!!!!! The best Fox/X-Men cinema far exceeds MCU in terms of emotional gut-punches. X-Men is still the only active superhero franchise that has made me actually cry a few times. (Goddamit, Charles, Erik, and Logan. Leave me alone!) And Deadpool was probably one of the best comic book adaptations of all time. 

Top Ten Films of 2014

Last year, I made my first video top ten (which you can see here), and while that was fun, as it so happens I’m a bit too busy right now to go through all the trouble of making a video at the moment. So here we are, back to the old way of doing things.

On an interesting side note, I found an unintentional theme in my list this year. Many of my films are in some way about the creation of art, as well as the price paid to be a great artist. Also, many of these movies could be seen as “coming-of-age” films. Once again I find myself astonished at how many great films came out in a single year (and I haven even seen all of them yet). So as usual, you can find my long list of “honorable mentions” at the end. 

Like always, this is just my personal top ten films of the year. Even if we share the same tastes, I guarantee you that my list would be different than yours. It’s just too subjective.

So starting at number ten and counting down… here we go!





10. Mr. Turner

As far as pure craftsmanship goes, “Mr. Turner” is perhaps the most well made film of the year. Mick Leigh is a master, and every shot is purposeful and completely stunning. The film itself looks like an old beautiful painting. Timothy Spall sinks deep into his role as J.M.W. Turner, and it’s probably his best performance to date. The deliberate pacing and lack of traditional structure might turn away some viewers, but “Mr. Turner” is nevertheless a great work of art, and a portrait of a fascinating man.



9. Frank

I knew very little about this film before seeing it, and I think that’s a good thing. From the opening scene, I instantly fell in love with this darkly funny film. At it’s core, there’s some rather deep subject mater, and yet “Frank” cleverly offsets this with some truly hilarious moments that keep the film entertaining throughout. Domhnall Gleeson is outstanding here, but of course, the real star of the show is Michael Fassbender, who gives an incredibly expressive performance despite the fact that we can’t see his face. I enjoyed nearly every moment of this picture, and it’s definitely one that you need to see.



8. Ida

Some films just belong in the Critrion Collection. Ida is one such film. It’s haunting and artful and features the best black and white photography I’ve seen in years. The sharpness and contrast of every shot is remarkable. The narrative is beautifully simplistic. In fact, the minimalistic nature of the film as a whole is part of what makes it so special. “Ida” is sparse, gorgeous, and masterful. Certainly one of the best foreign films of the year.



7. Only Lovers Left Alive

Vampires are cool, but Tom Hiddleston and Tida Swinton bring it to a whole new level. These old lovers have seen it all, and while they still appreciate art, science, and philosophy, they’ve grown tired and indifferent while mankind continues to make the same mistakes.  Jim Jarmusch’s film is a special kind of vampire story, because it may be the first one to really capture just how lonely, dangerous, and exhausting being immortal really is (or would be).  "Only Lovers Left Alive" has a deliberate pacing that glides slowly along with it’s characters. Along the way, we learn how they live and what they’ve grown to appreciate, and it’s all quiet fascinating. It’s my opinion that “Only Lovers Left Alive” ranks as one of the very best vampire films ever made. 



6. The Grand Budapest Hotel

A Wes Anderson film can always put a smile on my face. His last few films have been some of his best, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is certainly no exception. This film is so beautifully stylized, and so hilariously funny, I find it hard to believe that there’s anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this film. The cast is fantastically entertaining (especially Ralph Fiennes), the colors are vibrant, the humor is clever, and the filmmaking is flawless.  When I saw “Moonrise Kingdom”, I said it might be Wes Anderson’s best film yet…. when I saw “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, I said the same thing.



5. The Duke of Burgundy

Captivating and visually arresting, Peter Strickland’s “The Duke of Burgundy” is one of the most compelling films I saw all year. It’s beautifully shot, colored, and textured with elegant pacing and precise direction - I really can’t say enough positive things about this film. It’s surreal and challenging while retaining a soft and gentle nuance of love and tenderness. “The Duke of Burgundy” certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it extraordinary and deeply inspiring.



4. Boyhood

I know many cinephiles will probably place “Boyhood” as their number one film of the year, and I wouldn’t fault them for that. Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” is one of the most innovative and uniquely profound films ever made. Shot over the course of 12 years, we literally watch Mason grow up before our eyes. It’s a remarkable experience unparalleled by any comparisons I could make. We owe it to Linklater for having the guts to push our medium forward in such a beautiful way. This will probably win Best Picture at the Oscars, and it’s easy to see why. 



3. Birdman: (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Simply one of my favorite cinematic experiences in a very long time. In the first scene, I made a mental note that we were in a long take, but to my wonder and astonishment, that long take never ended. There are, of course, cuts and interludes (this isn’t a “Russain Ark” situation) but the effect is very much that Alejandro Iñárritu’s film is one singular shot. It’s remarkable, but could be called nothing more than an impressive gimmick if the film itself wasn’t so strong. 

This is the best cast ensemble of the year, and the cinematography is gorgeous (made more impressive again by the long takes). But “Birdman” also has some interesting things to say about the creation of art, as well as the criticism that always accompanies it. It’s an intriguing film, and one with something to say. I loved every minute of it.



2. Vi är Bäst! 

Every year, there are films that just seem to come out of nowhere and surprise me. Before it was released, I knew nothing of “We Are the Best”, nor was I familiar with Lukas Moodysson’s previous work. However, this film was perhaps the most enjoyable film I saw all year.

If you know nothing of this film, it’s the director’s adaptation of his wife’s graphic novel “Never Goodnight” (by Coco Moodysson). It centers around three young teenage girls living in 1980s Stockholm who start a punk band - despite two of them not knowing how to play an instrument. While the band plays an important role in the film, some of the most interesting scenes are when the girls are simply hanging out. The performances from these three young ladies are perhaps the most natural I’ve ever witnessed from anyone their age. At times, it seems that they’re not even acting at all, as if the cameras just happened to be there to catch these authentic moments. These girls are so funny, enduring, and most importantly, real. This film understands what it really means to be a hardcore punk. And that is a rare thing. I really can’t say enough good things about “We are the Best”. You just need to see it.


And my number one film of the year is…



1. Whiplash

This is not the most ambitious film of 2014. It’s not a space epic. It wasn’t shot over twelve years. It doesn’t give the illusion of being one continuous shot. It’s not even by a famous director. Yet, “Whiplash” was the single most thrilling  piece of cinematic art I saw all year.  

“Whiplash” tells the story of a young ambitious drummer who dreams of being one of the great jazz musicians of our time. He soon finds himself under the mentorship of a cutthroat teacher who is willing to do whatever it takes to push his students to the limit. The film shows painful abuse and heartache, but then just when you think the film will find contentment in an obvious solution, it aggressively charges forward into the single most intense, passionate, raw, violent, and beautiful final scene of the year. A scene that made my heart race until it finally cut to black, and the credits rolled. Then, and only then, did I finally catch my breath. This film bleeds with a passion that’s visible in every aspect, from its photography, to its editing, to the stellar performances. Enough can’t be said about Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. They both give 100% to their roles, and it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.

I found “Whiplash” to be painfully relatable at times… and I’m sure that contributed to my fondness for the film itself. Nevertheless, I think everyone should see this amazing work of art. Damien Chazelle has crafted a challanging look at what it truly means to be a young artist with high ambitions. The road to greatness is filled with suffering, pain, loss, frustration, blood, sweat, and tears… and it seems the filmmakers here understand the price that is paid. 



So there you have it - My top ten films of 2014. Please let me know what your favorite films were! Now, some of you may have noticed that a certain favorite director of mine not on this list…. so please see my honorable mentions below.



Honorable Mentions 

.

Inherent Vice - I know! I know! I can’t believe it either. P.T. Anderson is my favorite director, and I do love this film…. it just didn’t move me like his other work as done in the past. “Inherent Vice” is great. I just like 10 other films more.

Gone Girl - Yet another one of my favorite directors. David Fincher is to the point where he really doesn’t make bad films anymore. The craftsmanship is just too good.

Calvary - This is a touching and somewhat heartbreaking portrait of a priest genuinely trying to live a good life. A thankless job to be sure. It’s bleak but Brandon Glesson gives a wonderfully tender performance.  

The Babadook - Rich with metaphor, this is easily one of the best horror films in years. Love it so much, and you really need to see it.

Under the Skin - Who could forget this surreal work of art from Jonathan Glazer? Scarlett Johansson does wonderful work here.

Jeune & Jolie - “Young & Beautiful” was an underrated French film from François Ozon. I really loved it a lot, though I might be in the minority.

Snowpiercer - Joon-ho Bong is a crazy good director, and “Snowpiercer” is a thrilling sci-fi action movie far more worthy of your time than most summer blockbusters. 

Top Five - Chris Rock made an excellent film with a deep Woody Allen influence. I really hope he will continue this style into future projects. 

Foxcatcher - A remarkable film. Bennett Miller is on a roll. There’s really nothing to complain about with this film. See it.

The One I Love - A fantastic little gem from Charlie McDowell. Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are great.

The Imitation Game - A very sharp screenplay, and a brilliant performance from Benedict Cumberbatch.

A Most Wanted Man - The last leading performance from my favorite actor. 

Guardians of the Galaxy - Finally, Marvel made their finest MCU film yet. It’s fun and fast and a really great watch. 

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to see “A Most Violent Year”, “Winter Sleep”, “Goodbye to Language 3D”, “Leviathan” and serval other foreign films. I’m sure they all could have made my list if I had seen them. 

Michael After Midnight: The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

Ah, October, a month where the internet becomes obsessed with ghosts and goblins in preparation for Halloween. And really, can I fault the people for that? The dark, macabre, and spooky make for great entertainment! Plenty of great scary movies out there for the adults to enjoy to get into the spirit, but what about kids? Well, there’s Goosebumps and all those other shows like it, but what about a dark, macabre cartoon filled with spooky shit?

Enter The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, one of the best Cartoon Network cartoons ever made. Released in August of 2001, it came just in time for that year’s Halloween, and lasted six years, with seven seasons under its belt. During that time, the show endeared itself to audiences with its combination of dark comedy, grossout humor, and just plain weird situations…though weirdness is par for the course when you’re pals with the Grim Reaper, I suppose.

So what is the plot of this cartoon? Well, one day a hamster owned by a stupid boy named Billy was about to die, and the Grim Reaper came to take him. Billy’s cunning, evil best friend Mandy decided to make a bet with the Grim Reaper; they have a game of limbo, and if he wins he gets the hamster… but if THEY win, he has too be their best friend forever. Of course, he loses, and then he becomes the put-upon pal of these two kids as they boss him around and force him to entertain them. Much hilarity (and chaos) ensues.

This show’s greatest asset was its variety. With Grim onboard, any sort of plot could be possible, from sci-fi stories where the gang fought aliens or mutant chickens to more horrifying stores where they fought demons, monsters, and other denizens of the underworld. And sometimes they would do something really weird, like the episode-long dream sequence in which Billy imagines he’s in the Wild West confronting the cowboy Tooth Fairy. This helps most of the episodes feel fresh, because going in you don’t know if you’re gonna get a story about a killer tricycle or an episode-long reference to Suspiria. Speaking of which, the show is pretty clever in its references, slipping in TONS of content for adult fans, from numerous dirty jokes that will fly over kid’s heads to references to movies no kid would see, such as the aforementioned Suspiria or Hellraiser. As there’s not much continuity here, this show is super easy to jump into at any episode and just watch and have a good experience, which is another plus; sometimes it’s nice to have a simple show driven only by its desire to tell jokes rather than tell an overarching story. And thankfully, the jokes here are mostly good, and have as much variety as the episodes themselves. One memorable episode is just an episode-long series of fart jokes, while another episode gets its laughs from giant mutant chickens and cannibalism. It’s THAT kind of show.

Now, none of these situations would be quite as good if the protagonists weren’t entertaining, so how are they? Let’s start with the guy whose name comes first in the title (technically speaking): Grim. Grim, the personification of Death with an inexplicable Jamaican accent, is bizarrely the straight man in this show… well, usually. When he has to deal with Billy, he plays the role with ease, but with Mandy, Grim can sometimes get a bit silly, though rarely to Billy’s level. As he is typically what allows the strange and supernatural hijinks of the show to occur, be it on purpose or inadvertently, he’s easily the coolest main character, and due to his put-upon nature and how sympathetic he ends up being due to the shit Billy and Mandy put him through, he’s also the most likable.

Billy is up next, and he is the stereotypical idiot comic relief character cranked up to 11. He’s stupid to the point it is stated by his principal in one episode that a shovel and two candy bracelets actually scored higher on an IQ test than he did (they got a positive 17; he got -5). Think Ed from fellow Cartoon Network cartoon Ed, Edd n Eddy, only with a bigger nose and voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz of Invader Zim and Psychonauts fame. Unlike Ed, though, the dangerous and supernatural experiences they faced combined with an occasional lack of empathy and his tendency to be a jerk can make Billy a bit of a divisive character; I tend to enjoy him quite a bit, but there are a few episodes where even he tried my patience. Still, overall he’s an enjoyable dope.

Then we have… Mandy. I’m just gonna say it: by the time the show came to an end, Mandy was easily the worst main character, maybe even the worst character on the show period. She’s typically portrayed as the Ultimate Evil, this epic child chess master who always comes out on top and never faces any sort of consequence for what she does. It’s a rare episode that sees her punished for her actions. However, in episodes where she’s not trying to pull off some evil scheme and is just reacting to the madness around her, she’s a solid character. The fact she’s voiced by Grey DeLisle does help things a bit.

As I said, there is very little continuity between episodes, but there is some, mostly in the form of reoccurring characters. In a show like this, the ensemble cast as well as one-shot characters really need to be on point, and boy oh boy are they ever in this show! This show may have one of the best and most enjoyable ensemble casts in a cartoon ever. The big standouts are Hoss Delgado, the buff monster hunter who is basically a combination of Ash Williams and Snake Plissken, with all that badassery that implies; Eris, the sexy and tricky goddess of chaos; Jeff, a gigantic spider (voiced by Maxwell Atoms, the show’s creator) who is Billy’s ‘son’ and just wants his spider-hating father’s love; General Skarr, a character from Evil Con Carne who is a cunning evil man who wants to usurp power and rule the world… or he used to be, now he just wants to tend his garden in peace; and, last but definitely not least, motherfuckin’ Dracula, voiced by Phil LaMarr and based visually on Blackula, who is basically a nonstop fountain of hilarity. Each of these characters is fantastic, funny, and able to fit into a variety of weird situations the show pops out. And this brilliance and hilarity extends to one-shot characters as well, such as the much-loved singing evil meteor and Jack O’Lantern, characters who had one appearance each but easily endeared themselves with fans. If there’s a weak link in any of the ensemble cast, it would probably be Fred Fredburger; while he’s not devoid of funny moments, his schtick was really overplayed and he ended up becoming an unofficial mascot for the series in the ads, which led to overexposure. It leads people to think he had a bigger part in the show than he did, when he had a few episodes and then appeared in a few of the specials.

Interestingly, Billy & Mandy is probably one of the few shows that really benefited from getting wackier as the show went on. The first season, when the show was Grim & Evil, is, for lack of a better word, a bit grim. The episodes still have comedy, but a lot of them just aren’t as funny as later episodes, and not many of the series mainstays pop up here, aside from Nergal, Eris, and Hoss. That’s not to say there’s nothing memorable here – “Little Rock of Horrors” is in the first season, after all – but the first season just doesn’t stack up quite as well to later ones. Season 2 introduces Jeff and Nigel Planter and has the legendary Halloween special, while season 3 has classics like “Here Thar Be Dwarves” and brings in Grim’s school bully Boogie. They only get better from here, save for season 7, which is easily the least memorable season of them all (though it does have its exceptions, particularly “Wrath of the Spider Queen"). 

 Now, normally this is where I would wrap up, but first, I want to do something a little different. I’m going to list the 25 episodes I think are essential viewing for the best Billy & Mandy experience. I’m not going to review each episode or even detail them, because it would basically be me explaining jokes and how they’re funny. These are just the episodes I think anyone getting in should see. So without further ado…

25. Attack of the Clowns

24. One Crazy Summoner

23. The Loser from the Earth’s Core

22. Toadblatt’s School of Sorcery

21. Wrath of the Spider Queen

20. Home of the Ancients

19. Nursery Crimes

18. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

17. Giant Billy and Mandy All-Out Attack

16. Nigel Planter and the Chamber Pot of Secrets

15. Modern Primitives

14. Prank Call of Cthulhu

13. Duck!

12. The Secret Snake Club

11. Jeffy’s Web

10. Fear and Loathing in Endsville

9. Here Thar Be Dwarves

8. Goodbling and the Hip-hop-opotamus

7. Billy and Mandy Moon the Moon

6. My Fair Mandy

5. Keeper of the Reaper

4. Little Rock of Horrors

3. Wishbones

2. Billy and Mandy’s Jacked-Up Halloween

1. Billy and Mandy Save Christmas

Now this is by no means a definitive list (though I certainly believe the Halloween and Christmas episode are the two best episodes of the show), but I do certainly think that these are some of the funniest, most memorable, and most enjoyable episodes the series produced.

This show is unarguably a classic. Funny, dark, witty, and filled with jokes for people of any ages to enjoy, this is the sort of cartoon that helped Cartoon Network be truly great in the early to mid-2000s, prior to their descent into madness with live action shows. It actually spawned a pretty solid TV movie, an incredibly bizarre crossover with Codename: Kids Next Door, and a failed spinoff movie called Underfist; I’d go into more detail, but honestly, that stuff is worthy of their own reviews, so I’ll save it.

Needless to say though, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is one of the best cartoons of the 2000s, a real gem and definitely worth watching, especially its holiday specials which are among the best holiday specials, if not THE best (that Christmas episode is a strong contender). I kinda wish this show would get a revival of some kind, because even with the glut of comedy shows we have these days, as long as Maxwell Atoms is at the helm, I can’t see this show failing to stand out in the crowd… no show with such ballsy dark comedy and radar-dodging innuendos could ever be unwelcome.

Here’s My Take on the Season Finale

I’ve marinated in the emotion spawned from TWD S6 finale for a little under a week. 6.16 won’t be an episode I will watch again. It got to me. Honestly I felt like I was with TF the entire time. Let’s not even talk about the POV shots from the van. Maybe I am being over the top. Maybe I am being a baby. I just felt like I was kneeling on the ground waiting for Negan’s bat like everyone else. 

The entire cast deserves an emmy nomination for best ensemble cast. I didn’t see weakness from any of the actors. In fact I forgot that they were acting. We know that the nomination won’t happen, however. Andrew Lincoln needs an emmy nod. He is easily THE most underrated actor on television today. The way he was able to convey those emotions of fear and defeat throughout the finale was unreal. His eyes scared me. He went to another place. His face transformed right before my eyes and I am hard-pressed to find an actor who can take it to the next level like that. I can’t look at the pictures of Rick in the lineup. It’s just too disturbing. 

Now onto that ball of twine that is the cliffhanger. 

DAMN YOU SCOTT GIMPLE!!! I am so annoyed with you right now! I HATE YOU! But not for the reason you think. You see, I’m a child of the 1980s. I grew up in the decade that made the cliffhanger what it is today. I sat through the original Red Wedding that was the royal wedding on the nighttime drama “Dynasty”.

For those of you who weren’t around back then Dynasty was a drama that chronicled the life of oil tycoon Blake Carrington and his family. They lived the lavish life in Colorado. When Blake wasn’t making billions of dollars, there were cat fights in pools, shoulder pads gallore, and of course sex, sex, sex. 

Blake’s youngest daughter, Amanda marries a Moldavian prince. There is a junta during their wedding and everyone is sprayed with bullets. The audience has to wait until the fall to see who survived.  When the show returned later that year, only two or three minor characters were killed. 

BLAH!

Next up of course was the century’s most important question:

“WHO SHOT JR?”

I cannot tell you guys how crazy the summer of 1980 was with this cliffhanger. When my mom took me to the playground that’s all the parents were talking about. Even the fathers had lost their minds. I remember people almost cussing each other out because of disagreements over who actually tried to murder Mr. Ewing. In Kindergarten my classmates and played out this storyline in our dramatic play area. 

So getting back to why I hate Scott Gimple. I don’t hate him for the cliffhanger. Hell, it may not have been his decision. AMC probably pulled this trigger on this one. I am sure TPTB were thinking back to the infamous Dallas cliffhanger and the hoopla surrounding it. To say that the first episode of the following season was a ratings bonanza is an understatement. You have ComicCon coming up during the summer which would have been insane anyway. Then there are the TWD marathons, promotional interviews, etc. On paper this strategy looks perfect. 

Yeah. 

Now we have to endure oodles of crazy conspiracy theories and diagrams THE ENTIRE SUMMER! That’s why I hate Gimple! Map out Negan’s order and prove to us the genius that you are. Guess what? It doesn’t make a difference! The show runners can do whatever they want! Screw your diagram! Think that the POV shot in the van reveals who the victim is (Btw- I think that this is the best theory and IT’S NOT Michonne, Richonne haters)? That could be a red herring too. The point is these people are already driving me crazy and we haven’t made it one week! 

Gimple I’m looking at you!

I get the logic behind all of this. I do. The show doesn’t owe me anything. I’m a veteran of this nonsense. I was fully prepared. Don’t think I’m kissing ass here because if Aaron is revealed to be Negan’s victim when the show returns in October I will flip my lid.