Tag Archives: Favorite Episodes

Black Mirror – Season 1, Episode 1 – “The National Anthem” – A Political Nightmare in the Digital Age

  “The National Anthem” is at this point, my favorite episode of “Black Mirror.” This is an episode that shows the strength of public pressure in the media age as well as how the actions a person can take can lead to people turning against them and in turn forcing them to do the thing they least want to do. The episode is a political nightmare that shows both how quickly people move on from media events, but how when their is an ongoing crisis, how it can grab the attention of a nation and the world.

     The episode was directed by Otto Bathurst and written by Charlie Brooker.

       The story involves the unfolding of a political crisis when a young and popular Duchess is kidnapped, with the only demands for her release being, that the Prime Minister have sex with a pig on live television. From here the crisis unfolds as the Prime Minister deals with the public and private fallout of the threat as they try to find the missing Duchess.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Characters – The characters are really well written in this and don’t feel like archetypes, which is often a problem in short one episode stories like this. Every character is facing decision and choice. We have the Home Secretary trying to get an actor so the event can still take place and so they can get around it, you have the Prime Minister doing everything he can with the police and you have the wife doing all she can to keep her husband from doing the act. In the end it all comes to a head and no one really wins in the end except for the artist who created the event in the first place. Rory Kinnear as the Prime Minister and Lindsay Duncan’s Home Secretary stole the show.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is dark and isolating, which captures the different levels of terror the government officials are going through. Everything is connected and as the media and gossip grows around the event we see further isolation of the characters from one another, forcing the event to happen.

The Power of Social Media and the Power of Public Pressure – The threat is done over youtube and the Prime Minister putting a gag order on the press just makes people question it as a cover-up and distrust the Prime Minister more. When the story is finally broke it goes out of control as we see his attempts to find the Duchess lead to the people turning against him as his use of an actor made him look like a coward and a press agent getting shot made him look like a dictator. At one point the Home Secretary even warns that his wife and family will be at risk if he doesn’t go forward with the act since he alienated the public so much. When he’s made his decision he doesn’t answer his phone when his wife is trying to reach him and we see how his duty as the Prime Minister was more important than alienating and destroying his relationship with his wife.

Social Media and Moving On – A year later the Prime Minister is popular and the press is just business as usual again. This was amazing that the public had already moved on from the horrendous act that the Prime Minister was forced to do…on the other side we see that things may appear peaceful in the public eye but his marriage is destroyed. He kept power and positive public perception but lost his soul.

  This episode achieved all it set out to do, had a great cast and fully explored the premise of how a nightmarish strange crisis would unfold in the digital age where public pressure can make a person capable of horrible things, since all it took was the threat of a person who was loved by the public to be under threat for the crisis to happen. I felt for all government officials in this, as well as the wife as in the end the choices they made were shaped by how others viewed and talked about them. In a way their agency was lost to the public will, which is in a way, what we ask of our public servants, as they represent us and our interests. I think this is a big reason why, a year after the event the Prime Minister was loved again. He’d done his duty to look out for the public good, and save a life, even though the act was nightmarish, immoral and wrong…and the cost was his family.

Final Score: 10 / 10

Black Mirror – Season 1, Episode 3 – “The Entire History of You” – Of Memories and Obsession

the-entire-history-of-you-black-mirror

    I’m kicking off “Horror Month” with “The Entire History of You,” from Black Mirror. This story is amazing! Black Mirror is a series that likes to take ideas related to technology and shine them on humanity revealing our dark underbelly and how technology can strengthen those already bad tendencies. This episode does an amazing job with this!

   The episode was directed by Brian Welsh and written by Jesse Armstrong.

   The story takes place in the near future, where people can now save memories onto a flash device that is in their head and can put memories up on the screen. The story revolves around Liam (Toby Kebbell) and his relationship that is falling apart as his ability to recall memories plays into his already obsessive tendencies.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is really cool. The ability to save and recall memories is something that could easily come about in the near future and with that there are so many ways it would make humanity worse. This episode really explores that on the small level of a relationship.

The Writing – The writing is awesome! It is all showing rather than telling and the audience is treated like an adult. Jesse Armstrong really wrote a fantastic screenplay. It is one of the less terrifying Black Mirror episodes but it has a great use of tension.

Liam – Toby Kebbell does a fantastic job as an obsessive whose life is falling apart is beautifully done. He is someone who has major issues as he fixates on things and those things consume them to the point where we see a man who doesn’t trust and it destroys his relationship in the process. The final scene is him recalling his memories of his wife before cutting out the chip and destroying all memory of the relationship.

Ffion –  Ffion is Liam’s wife and does a great job as a woman trying to keep her relationship together while dealing with an unstable partner. It is her connection with a past friend she had a fling with that leads Liam to obsessing but we see why she is trying to get out. Her agency and memories are never respected. Liam makes everything about him which leads to her rightfully leaving him.

The Good in Forgetting –  One of the themes is that memory isn’t solid and that is a good thing. The people who are the most well put together in this are the ones who don’t dwell on memories, they live and it allows them to move on. The memories are still a part of them but unlike Liam they don’t obsess over every detail.

The Danger in Obsession – Memory recall is most dangerous in how it can lead into obsession. It is through Liam’s eyes that we see it all take place. He loses his life because he holds on so hard to details tied to his own insecurities that he loses everything anyway. The technology isn’t the problem it is how it can make those who are obsessed worse. Liam already had issues, but having the chance to analyze the past just made him worse. He stopped living in the moment and lost the moment.

Okay: Minor Characters – Liam’s and Ffion’s friends are okay, they don’t really get the full exploration they deserved though.

  This was another great episode of Black Mirror. I can’t wait to review more and will probably review at least one more episode from the show for “Horror Month.” Until then I highly recommend this episode and this show as a whole.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 12 – “The Trial of the Monarch” – Taking Down the Monarch

The Trial of the Monarch

    Any episode with “the Monarch” is usually gold. This is once again the case for “The Trial of the Monarch” and manages to flesh out the Universe more fully as well as show the darker and tragic sides to our characters.

     The episode was directed directed by Jackson Publick and written by Doc Hammer.

    The story involves the trial of the Monarch when he is tried for the death of a cop. Things aren’t as they seem though as Guild of Calamity is soon revealed as well as the falling out leading to the trial.

The Pros: Hank and Dean Venture – The brothers turn into a Shiva-Mech in an Indiana Jones-type Adventure at the beginning and are saved from being hurt by the Guild by Brock. They are naive and it adds a nice contrast to the drama.

Brock Samson – Brock respects the Guild for just how good they are at getting the job done and lets the Monarch take the fall for what he’s done in the past. It is interesting see his relationship with them as there is a mutual respect.

Dr. Orpheus – The Guild makes a deal with him that he’ll get a nemesis if he lies to implicate the Monarch. He does and it is so happy to see him celebrate at finally having someone he can face. This character is always fun.

Dr. Girlfriend – Dr. Girlfriend is shamed by the Monarch and goes back to a past love Phantom Limb but is ashamed of betraying him by joining the Guild that she mind controls the Monarch to blame the Venture Bros. She is great in this, you get why she leaves the Monarch.

The Minions – These guys make an appearance too and one of them dresses up as Dr. Girlfriend so that the Monarch can send his last wishes of what to do now that he’s in prison. It’s funny and sad. Oh the life of a minion.

the Monarch – The Monarch is shown to be both an ass (blaming Dr. Girlfriend for past loves, etc.) but in the end shows he is capable of being good. I wish he’d apologized but the guy is a child and that is kind of the point. All the antagonists and protagonists are children in maturity, so it makes things interesting since they can grow but it is difficult to get there.

Okay: The Guild of Calamity – They have a great look, but we don’t have the chance to really get to know how they work. They have a great look though, lots of spikes and leather to really show they are bad.

The Cons: Phantom Limb – I don’t really get his obsession with getting rid of the Monarch outside of jealousy. I wanted to know more about him, but he just comes off as a creeper.

This was a great episode but not the best episode of the series. Truly that goes for any episode with the Monarch though. He adds so much to everything he is in since he does everything to the fullest. He is a villain you have to admire, and the tragic element of his character makes him interesting. I got a feeling he isn’t out yet.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 10 – “Tag Sale – You’re It!” – Of Rivalries and Has-Beens

Tag Sale - You're it!

   “Tag Sale – You’re It!” is a chance to see more of our characters interact with one another as well as see the legacy Dr. Venture in a way has left behind as well as funny antics by both the Monarch and Dr. Orpheus.

   The episode was directed by Jackson Publick and written by Doc Hammer.

  The episode involves Dr. Venture hosting a yard sale where all his old enemies and rivals come to buy his technology. Things soon unfold as the Monarch plots chaos to get into Dr. Venture’s lab.

The Pros: The Yard Sale – The Yard Sale is fantastic! Pete and Wizkid are looking to form an evil team. We meet Dr. Girlfriend’s old partner Phantom Limb, Baron Underbheit and Richard Impossible show up and quite a few others we have never met. They are all a lot of fun.

Dr. Orpheus – This guy spends the episode harassing super villains in order to a nemesis and rival. Sadly to no avail though, as none of them have a personal reason to hate him. Also, he’s Dr. Orpheus. Even when he’s a dick, he’s still the best person on Team Venture.

Monarch Henchmen – These two are funny. At one point one them buys a lightsaber and finds that Dr. Venture jipped him as when he attacks Brock it just goes through Brock and doesn’t hurt him. These two are great and I’m glad the show kept them around.

Dr. Girlfriend – In this we see how much Dr. Girlfriend cares for the Monarch as Phantom Limb from the Guild and offers to make her a member as she once held more power than she does now. I like how she stood her ground. We also see her soft side again when she feels bad for Dr. Venture and sees the echoes of the great man he once was.

the Monarch – The Monarch feels bad for Dr. Venture! We also see how good he is at causing chaos when he causes the fight that allows him to get into the Venture Compoud where it is very under-dramatic. He is disappointed in his arch-nemesis countless times and just feels bad for him, even as he affirms revenge once more at the end, showing just how deep his obession goes.

Okay: Team Venture – Team Venture is largely the ones spectating. We have Hank Venture start a business with Dean as one of his employees but it not go anywhere when brawling breaks out and Brock is just in charge of security and really doesn’t do anything noteworthy.

This was a great and fun episode. I like the sadness Dr. Girlfriend and the Monarch feel in Dr. Venture’s lab as they realize just how much of washed up has-been he’s become. This of course doesn’t stop Monarch with his obsession as he vows revenge as upstairs the boys watch him and Dr. Venture suggests calling the cops nonchalantly. It’s a great scene and was a big reason I like the episode so much.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 7 – “Ice Station – Impossible!” – A Satire of “The Fantastic Four”

Ice Station - Impossible!

   “Ice Station – Impossible!” is an outright satire of “The Fantastic Four” as it takes a realistic approach to what would happen if actual humans received the conditions that the Fantastic Four receive. Dr. Venture is of course along for the ride and we are introduced to Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy. We also get another great Brock B story to round things out.

    The episode was directed and written by Jackson Publick.

    The episode involves Richard Impossible pulling together a think tank for his organization, while elsewhere Hank is infected by a substance that will turn him into a human bomb unless they can find Richard Impossible’s secret base.

The Pros: Pete White and Master Billy Quizboy – These two are brought into Richard Impossible’s think tank along with Dr. Venture to create products for Impossible Industries. We never see what they do exactly as it soon becomes about the Impossibles and not what the mission actually was.

The Impossibles – The Impossibles are tragic as Richard is a controlling tycoon who keeps them all locked away, Sally just wants to be free even as anytime she feels her skin turns invisible revealing the flesh underneath, her special needs brother Ned becomes the Thing and has a good heart and Cody just catches on fire when ever he is any place too hot. They are a tragic family and I’m glad she escapes with Dr. Venture.

Richard Impossible – Colbert is great at playing this stuck up git as we see him attempt to kill Dr. Venture by leaving him out in the arctic to die and later when he mocks them all for trying to save Hank when it substance wore off since it was never tested on humans. He did make a great antagonist for the episode.

Dean Venture – Dean is fascinated by what Hank is going through and doesn’t panic until Brock mentions that Dr. Venture probably wouldn’t be able to fix it. Seeing his detachment is fascinating though as it seems to be a coping mechanism for him.

Brock Samson – Brock finds the agent who was trying to rescue the serum before he dies and spends the episode getting Hank to safety and calming him down as well as explaining how he’d kill Hank so he wouldn’t feel pain if it ever came to it, voicing he had considered and thought about that possibly occurring.

Hank Venture – Hank is understandably reacting to everything and from this we see that he is at peace with dying.

Dr. Venture – Venture is a sleeze. He is all about hooking up with Sally until her condition is revealed and doesn’t even seem to appreciate her for her mind as he can’t stand how she looks when her skin turns invisible. The guy is shallow, one good thing is he did try to save his son Hank with the Think Tank.

   This was a solidly great episode though I wouldn’t call it a favorite. The humorous moments don’t quite reach the jokes of the first 3 episodes, though the satire of the “Fantastic Four” is great, especially as it relates to body horror and how it reveals that Dr. Venture is not a deep character. I definitely recommend this episode.

Final Score: 9 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 3 – “Home Insecurity” – A Meeting of Villains and a Story of Goons

The Venture Bros S 1 E 3 Home Insecurity

   “Home Insecurity” is one of the best episodes of “The Venture Bros.” I have watched thus far. H.E.L.P. eR. gets humanized, the goons of both the Monarch and Underbheit get character development and Brock has a great side story.

   The episode was directed by Jackson Publick and written by Doc Hammer.

    The story involves Brock going on his annual hunting trip in the wilderness as the Monarch and Baron Underbheit’s assassination plots against Dr. Venture occur as they cross hairs and decide to meet up to resolve this conflict of interest in who gets the kill while the brothers find themselves trapped in the Venture Compound.

The Pros: H.E.L.P. eR – The robot who always helps around gets humanized this episode as he seeks the specs for G.U.A.R.D.O. and believes he is being replaced. It isn’t until Dr. Venture has a heart moment that he comes to save the day as we see how much everyone appreciates him.

The Brock Samson Quest – Brock’s quest is a lot of fun as he goes into the wilderness and runs into Sasquatch and Sasquatch’s bionic husband who used to be a soldier who served with Brock. Brock’s mission is to help them escape and he does so by shaving Sasquatch and making them look like wounded vets. It’s a fun B Plot and shows Brock’s good side.

the Monarch and Underbheit’s Goons – There is a standoff between goons at the Venture Compound as each is as strong as the other. While they wait for their bosses to make a decision they become friend as we learn Underbheit forces children into his army and kills them at 38 while the Monarch takes ex-druggies and turns them into soldiers, though also kidnaps. Sadly G.U.A.R.D.O. is unleashed at the end leading to all the goons being slaughtered. R.I.P.

Baron Underbheit – Is a very loud villain who kills 2 of his minions at the beginning and tries to kill the Monarch when they meet. He has a lot of respect for Monarch though as he sees the Monarch’s issue is more personal showing that even though he is a mad psychopath, he has honor in their somewhere. His flamboyance makes him a lot of fun too as he looks like Darth Malek.

the Monarch – The Monarch is the main guy in this as we see how obsessed he is with Dr. Venture, from a 37 point powerpoint of how he’s been planning to take Dr. Venture down and even how dismissive he’s become of Dr. Girlfriend who clearly is running most of the operation while Monarch’s inheritance keeps it all afloat.

Dr. Venture – Venture shows himself to have goodness in him as he reaches out to H.E.L.P.eR. This was a rare moment of goodness for the character and showed that he is capable of more than just caring for himself and can feel gratitude.

   This was a perfect episode as every character got at least some development and not only are the villains humanized but so are their minions…just like H.E.L.P. eR. is given a chance to be a hero. There is also tragedy too as the goons are shown to be just cogs in a machine and pretty great guys who never got the chance to know as their leaders only saw them as tools of revenge.

Final Score: 10 / 10

The Venture Bros. – Season 1, Episode 1 – “Dia De Los Dangerous” – You Don’t Mess With Brock and the Humanity of the Monarch

The Venture Bros Episode 1 Dia De Los Dangerous

   The Monarch and Brock Samson are probably my two favorite characters on the show at this point. Both of them are so true in what they are and manage to be sympathetic even though they are completely nuts. This episode exists to flesh out the Monarch’s backstory and show us just how selfish Dr. Venture is.

    “Dia De Los Dangerous” was directed and written by Jackson Publick.

     The story involves the Ventures and Samson traveling to Mexico so that Dr. Venture can be a guest lecturer at a Community College. Things soon go awry when the boys get seperated from the group and Dr. Venture’s Kidneys are taken.

The Pros: H. E. L. P. eR. – This is a pretty weak robot that speaks incomprehensible but is easily the heart of the team as it is kind in a way that the Venture Brothers clearly are not. In this the brothers treat him to an upgrade and he is there for Dr. Venture after his kidney’s are stolen. The robot has a great design as well.

Dr. Girlfriend – Dr. Girlfriend has the voice of a deep voiced man and is the Monarch’s love interest. She is awesome as we see her counsel and be there for the Monarch and help him through his parental abandonment issues.

Dr. Venture – Dr. Venture is a selfish git who only cares about his kids in how he can use them to further his own ends. We get a glimpse of why in the next episode as he is a reflection of how he perceived his father to a degree. There is nothing redeemable about him in this episode though.

Dean and Hank Venture – These two update H. E. L. P. eR. and end up getting knocked out and their stuff stolen and later kidnapped by the Monarch. They hold their own though though they are not good at reading situations due to them needing rescue multiple times through the episode. They have a funny moment too where they end up with a prostitute but run away in fear after she touches their dicks…as they were oblivious to what she actually does.

the Monarch – the Monarch didn’t care about his biological parents dying in a plane crash we learn…he felt greater loss at the Monarch butterlfys who raised him leaving (which he later learned was them migrating to Mexico, and from Dr. Girlfriend dying as the that is the life-cycle of a butterfly), and from all this all he wants is to be a good father as he never had one.

Brock Samson – Brock goes on a rampage in this as Monarch minions knock him out with their car and later slaughters the Monarch Minions in Mexico with his car in revenge. Seriously, this guy is an insane character and is great because of it. Brock has no line.

The Cons: Mexico – So much more could have been done here, the location only exists to be somewhere new and some “Day of the Dead” jokes so the episode could have happened anywhere at the end of the day. The story is still great for the character bits but could have been more.

This is an episode I’d recommend and is a must see if only for Brock’s rampage and the Monarch’s backstory. The episode is also a lot of fun and made me solidly invested in this show after watching the pilot.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10