Posted in Television

The One About The Sitcoms

I’ve only ever really watched 3 sitcom series end to end, Friends, How I Met Your Mother and Brooklyn99. The American ones are way better than the crappy British ones (looking at the overrated Inbetweeners).

Naturally Brooklyn99 is the most recent and in so many ways it has made me realise how poorly written the likes of Friends and How I Met Your Mother are. I have watched other sitcoms but none as chronologically as these.

They raised the bar, but maybe got away with it a little bit.

Now Friends needs no introduction and is probably the most iconic sitcom ever made. Whether its the best will be a matter of opinion. It certainly for me was the best until last year.

How I Met Your Mother is probably on the other end of the spectrum since its series finale. Going down as possibly one of the worst conclusions to such a good show after 9 series.

I probably stand out a lot of the time as I don’t always agree with where these shows end up.

Ross was bad for Rachel. He never supported her and was always obsessive over her, like a possession. They never really seemed like a happy couple. However Joey and Rachel seemed well matched. He was everything Ross neglected to be, but is cast aside by the writers as a sexist womanizer than can’t find happiness.

The same can be said for my opinion for How I Met Your Mother. Robin and Ted? No thanks. She was always better with Barney. They seemed to be everything Ted whined on about. I mean How I Met Your Mother has a much bigger problem than my opinion of Ted and Robin.

How I Met the Worst Ending.

How I Met Your Mother leads with its plot, it is the title. We are guided by the story of how Ted meets the Mother. We’re led to believe for the 9 years that this story would end in a tale of destiny, fate and a meant to be love story that would hold true for years.

Is it cool if I bang a stranger?

What we were served was a ‘is it cool if I go bang a stranger to you?’ story.

What really gets me about this is not just that the story doesn’t end with the ‘mother’ but that its a bit of a slap in the face.

By the time we ‘meet’ the mother (if we really do) she is killed off. Killed? Are you fucking kidding me?

But what about the Yellow Umbrella? The chance encounters that never happened at the parties and the class? All these things painting this character that we already love and can’t wait to see how it Is .

Thing is, her death isn’t that impactful. Sure there’s a moody score but who is she? She has some one liners here and there and comes across that she’s a great addition to the show. She gets less than Mikes 20 episodes in Friends but are expected to like her more.

Anyway, lets me move on from that (everyone else did).

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

So Friends is the Good, How I Met Your Mother is the bad. Does that make Brooklyn99 the Ugly?

Oh contraire, Brooklyn99 has shown these shows up completely.

We all know about Friends. Based in the 90’s and Rachel gets of the plane to her obsessive, bad for her partner, Ross. Everyone gets a happy ending. But what did we watch for 10 seasons?

Rachel was the only character to show growth. She enters the show naive, immature and dependent. When we finish she is the opposite. She is a role model for females to beleive in yourself and have confidence to rise in your career, love can wait.

Joey is the same throughout (bar a couple of relationships). Ross is the same throughout. Chandler and Monica, well, you guessed it the same throughout. There’s no growth. There’s actually very little story for 10 seasons.

How I Met Your Mother is the same. Barney, Lily, Marshall, Robin and Ted all remain the same character throughout. Moreover they parallel their Friends counterparts. Joey and Barney, Lily and Monica etc.

How I Met Your Mother parallels Friends counterparts.

How I Met Your Mother would get credit if the series finale was a whole series. Barney a dad? Ted losing the supposedly love of his life. Lily and Marshall with a new start in the suburbs. These are moments of growth for these characters that was chosen to be wrapped up in 20 minutes.

Why is Brooklyn99 different?

So all this leads me to why is Brooklyn99 the exception to this rule.

Well we’ve had 7 seasons and we’ve seen more character growth for 6 characters than the other 10 mentioned (Rachel not included).

What we’ve seen in Brooklyn99 is the stupidest, most silly character in Jake Peralta mature to become a role model for those watching. We’ve seen Santiago face a power struggle in a male dominated industry. We’ve seen Rosa struggle with her sexual identity.

Furthermore the stories told make sense, mostly. Boyle maybe a little on the elaborate side. But in any sense this show is written to actually show us the development of these characters as we move through years of their lives.

The show tackles serious issues such as racism…

Brooklyn 99 really deserves credit for it’s approach to serious issues.

The show tackles important issues such as racism, sexual harassment, parenthood and discrimination. Not only does it tackle them, it becomes part of these characters in a way only a sitcom could be.

All in all Brooklyn99 shows a quality that is actually lacking from its predecessors. Sure maybe those before it we’re just there to give us 20 minutes of escapism but they’re also shows we probably relate to the most. Yet it’s so easy to out grow them.

What am I trying to say then? Be like Brooklyn 99. Have silliness that belongs on a children’s show. But at the same time, let the characters grow with its audience. Show them to face the issues not only in a funny way that life gives, but in a serious nature that life hits us with.


Just as a side note. I have watch The Big Bang Theory and its like a bridge. Half of it suffers from the same symptoms of Friends and How I Met Your Mother and some of it is like Brooklyn 99. It ran so Brooklyn 99 could fly.

Posted in Gaming, Review

The Last of Us Part 2

So I finally finished my first playthrough of the much anticipated sequel to The Last of Us, PlayStations most highly rated exclusive title. While the game is stellar in some ways I was ultimately left unsatisfied with my experience.

Warning: SPOILERS. It lets me talk openly about this game.

Story

The Last of Us Part 2 carries on 4 years after the events of the first film, in which Joel and Ellie have found a permanent settlement in Jackson. They have joined Joel’s brother Tommy to help be part of a thriving environment contributing their own skills.

The story takes some bold decisions and takes them early. Joel is killed. Brutally and in front of Ellie screaming for mercy.

This fills Ellie with hatred and a thirst for revenge that Tommy is reluctant to at first. After all, everything was almost perfect in Jackson. Ellie manages to convince him and Dina that they should go after Abby, Joel’s killer and sets up the plot.

This story is all about revenge. In some ways it uses the characters from The Last of Us to tell this. For the first 10-15 hours you play as Ellie tracking down the location of Abby and her band of friends from a group called ‘WLF’.

During this part I was generally satisfied with where the story was going. Ellie’s need for revenge had no mercy but this led to her making decisions that you wouldn’t always agree with. In some ways I started to dislike Ellie as a person, where I previously held a lot of admiration.

I started to fall out of love with the game.

In a climatic turn of events, Abby actually finds Ellie and it all goes to shit. This character I started to dislike I was now worried for, maybe not for her death but for what this event might do to her after so many bad decisions.

Then the story stops. Why? So we get to see the last 3 days from Abby’s perspective. For me this is where I started to fall out of love with the game.

I think, like most people, I had no desire to understand the character of Abby. Unfortunately Naughty Dog don’t do anything with her character to change my mind.

Abby is one of those characters that’s just dislikeable. Her reputation is for killing ‘Scars’ a faction of believers that they should start again and are somewhat primitive in some ways.

Scars – a new faction of silent enemies.

She has her friend cheat on his pregnant partner with her and everyone around her starts to die.

This goes on for 10-15 hours and by the end of it, I just didn’t care. Then to top it all off I play as Abby in a fight against Ellie, almost killing her and Dina. She actually says ‘good’ when learning Dina is pregnant with a knife to her throat.

However after these events I felt some content. We see that Ellie and Dina have settled down with a family and have moved on. I would have been happy for it to end here. Ellie had seen the consequences of her actions and knew that revenge would only lead to despair or worse.

The last section of the game sees Ellie go back to find Abby as she cannot live with Joel’s death. This ends up destroying everything around her and she loses everything, her life with Dina, relationship with Tommy and herself in so many ways.

Combat

The combat in this game is very good in the most part. Like the original game I’m given the choice of stealth, all guns blazing or a blend of both. The skill trees are okay, but I’m not sure I liked them as they lacked choice and the weapons are good.

There are some new enemies that are silent, so your listening mechanic is kinda pointless at times and you can only fight in reaction to your environment.

There’s too many fist fights that are boss battles and a knock back mechanic that is frustrating as its totally random (I got knocked back by arrows, pistol bullets and sniper rounds).

The game is still satisfying to play though. It probably has the best combat for a survival horror game it really is that good.

Environment

This is where the game is at its best. The environments were and are amazing. They feel real, alive and dangerous. I found myself constantly saying ‘makes sense’ when finding bits and areas.

The game looks, probably, the best of any game out currently.

I was just in constant awe of how this game looks and feels technically. I just wish I hadn’t played what for me was the best section of the game as Abby.

You fight through a hotel and eventually a hospital against infected and it’s just amazing. I kept thinking, as Ellie I would be so engrossed right now, but part of me just wanted it over.

In Summary

My initial reaction after finishing the game was ‘what’s the point?’

I really felt that this story didn’t enhance on what we had from the first game. Ellie became unlikable, Abby is unlikable and Joel is barely anywhere to be seen. We have some flash backs that just break your heart as you eventually learn at the end of the game Ellie hadn’t forgiven Joel, but wanted to.

This left me rethinking her motives the whole time. It seemed that she didn’t need revenge at the cost of everything because in some ways Joel had taken her meaning away from her. What she had as a result of realising her truth was a life she could make for herself (and did).

Ellie and Dina

I would have liked to see Ellie maybe not kill Abby but save her from the infection (we’re told she gets bitten) as mercy and taking Lev (Abby’s equivalent to Joel’s Ellie), back to Jackson.

The idea that revenge brings peace is one I can’t get behind. I also love a happy ending and this game doesn’t give it. Its such a poor ending.

As a result the game ends up feeling detached from its characters of the first one and becomes a commentary of the world as a whole. It looks the best of probably any game currently out, plays amazingly but ultimately poor story decisions, terrible pacing, and a lack of interesting characters leaves an unsatisfying game.

Posted in Review, Television

Le Casa de Papel (Money Heist) Review

The Spanish Crime Drama has been an international success and for good reason. This captivating telling of multiple bank heists is TV done right.

An iconic look known all over the world from this show.

First off, if you haven’t watch La Casa de Papel it advertises itself in parts. This is actually seasons. I was told initially it was 2 parts and was like, great a few hours and I’m sorted. Then I realise part 1 is 13 episodes…

Mind you, finding out there was like 21 episodes to watch at the time was great, as I was already hooked.

There’s something about this show that draws you in. Whether its the characters, the back stories, the planning or the actual heist, something keeps you.

That’s how this show is told, everything at the same time. We see the heist of the Royal Mint at the same time we see the planning. It runs in a parallel. Amongst all of this we’re learning about these characters that we initially only know as cities they have chosen as their names.

The exception is the Professor (Alvaro Morte). He orchestrates the whole thing, together with Berlin (Mint Heist) and Palermo (Royal Bank Heist). With each heist they use the same cast of misfits.

The first we meet is Tokio (Ursula Corbero). My favourite character of them all. She is the narrator of the whole thing, keeping you in check with what is going on. She’s feirce, vulnerable, a badass and generally a leader throughout it all. In many ways the whole show is her story, or at least from her perspective.

Tokio .

She forms a relationship with the Professor who she calls her guardian angel. Together they work with Rio, Denver, Moscu, Nairobi, Helsinki and some others here and there. Each with a distinctly different role but the same aim.

As the seasons play out so do the heists. These are expertly clever and almost believable. The immersion for this show is brilliant. It’s only when we get to part 2 that things seem to get a bit dramatic but that’s also the charm.

The relationships during the heist are brilliant. It’s stressful, tense and exciting all at the same time. While they’re in the heist the idea is to become heroes of Spain.

This is where the show is clever in it’s telling of the story. The police are naturally never in charge during the heist, however it may seem. Raquel (Itziar Ituno), the head of the police lets call her, and the Professor seemingly play a chess match the whole time, but it’s like the Professor has seen the match already.

All the while you’re rooting for the guys in the masks all while they’re committing the biggest crime Spain has seen. The masks have become a symbol that is iconic within the show as much as it is outside of the show. Moreover during the heist you’re rooting for the smaller stories. Those relationships and events that are happening throughout the season between these characters.

It’s stressful, tense and exciting all at the same time.

One rule of the heist is to not talk about the heist, okay its not, it’s actually not to form any personal relationships, hence the nicknames. That was always an unlikely rule to be kept and it’s for the better.

Seasons 3 and 4 really build on this and provide heart warming and heart breaking moments as the events play out. I’m still not sure I’m over a certain event.

Neither season is packing loads of action or missing any details. They’re both well balanced in terms of characters and story.

The show isn’t without its draw backs. Each heist is over 2 parts that can feel a bit drawn out, especially the second heist as it’s yet to be concluded. There’s naturally some characters we wish weren’t in it but it wouldn’t be a good show without them.

When the action does get a little bit out of hand it does break the immersion a little bit and you remember this isn’t actually real life.

Overall, I believe this is a must watch. I know some people may not like foreign TV but this is worth getting used to. Either dubbing or subtitles are worth using. The dubbing is well voice acted.

It’s easily a top 5 Netflix show for me. Maybe I’ll do that list soon? Check out my Instagram to see that!

Stole my attention / 10