The Good, The Bad & The Verdict: Bojack Horseman – Season Four

Hello friend, it is I, Evan J. Pretzer and I am here with another lovely and hopefully well-written review to provide you with a guide to some of the entertainment out there that I consume and think you may enjoy as well.

Though I wanted to talk about the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed novel about a spooky clown/allegory for child sex abuse that is IT, my current employer will be running my movie reviews that I decide to do now and then. So, this week, I’m here to talk about the latest season of Netflix’s acclaimed animated television show about a depressed and sentient horse named Bojack Horseman (Will Arnett) who in a lot of ways reminds me of myself, somewhat.

When we last left the former Horsin’ Around star, his former cast member had died when accompanying him on a drug bender, his friends had all abandoned him save Diane (Alison Brie) and occasional frenemy dog Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) was preparing to run for Governor of California.

The Good   

Like seasons past, this season shines with its painful emotional honesty and the brilliance of its various celebrity guest actors. The criminally underrated Andre Braugher shines here in a small but crucial role and Will Arnett continues to prove that he deserves a meaty live-action dramatic role instead of the endless glut of acclaimed and occasionally terrible comedies he seems to be stuck with.

We learn a lot more about Bojack’s family this season, see that things we’d previously thought about his mom, dad and childhood aren’t what they appeared to be on first glance and by the time the season ends, the Secretariat star is an a hopeful, but unfamiliar position to him. Those who have had experience with a genealogist could relate to it. Elsewhere, Amy Sedaris’s cat agent Princess Carolyn goes through one of the most crushing storylines I’ve seen in some time on a television show and Aaron Paul’s Todd grows beyond his slacker past.

The Bad

Though the season is as-usual well-written, I can’t help but describe it as aimless. There doesn’t seem to be a season long arc that pins all the episodes together and storylines just seem to crash into each other with little to no thought. One moment we’re following Mr. Peanutbutter and his quest for power and the next scene we’re slammed into Bojack’s life and his interactions with people from his family before things quickly slam back to Todd and his hijinks. Honestly, it was as mismatched as Nolan’s third Batman film. Too poorly paced and jarring for any viewers.

The Verdict

I liked the season, but I wasn’t moved by it. Season 3 made me cry at points, Season 4 made me just say “Hmm…that’s sad.” In the future, R.B.W and his team would be wise to have less wheel-spinning moments and make sure that a central arc ties a season together. Otherwise, all we’re left with is a hodge-podge of stories and human/animal misery that becomes desensitizing.

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An Apology to Kesha: Whom I used to Dislike

Hey guys, it’s me here and, for the moment, things are really kick-ass in my life. I’ve got a great job, cool car, am living in an area that doesn’t drive me nuts and seem to have matured a tad in a short period of time. Not only am I putting past trivial nonsense behind me, but I’ve also decided to admit I was wrong about something. To be more specific, I shouldn’t have mocked Kesha.

You know who she is, the singer of Tik Tok, the person whose sense of style at one point in time could have childishly been described as “glitter vomit” and an (Alleged) victim of serious abuse.

I won’t get into it here in depth, so instead I’ll give you the gist. Recently, she sued her former producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald in court with the aim of breaking free from her contract with his record company. She didn’t prevail, is still under contract at Kemosabe Records. Though apparently, her new album Rainbow was made without Gottwald’s involvement.

There’s the standard interesting tracks, a couple of cool collaborations with the Eagles of Death Metal and acclaimed country artist Dolly Parton, but what rises above them all is Praying. A song whose lyrics seem to make reference to the abuse allegations Kesha made against Gottwald.

In the video, the singer, free of autotune that once defined her, traipses through an exotic and colorful landscape while adorned in religious imagery and all the while showcasing her amazing voice.

I know this is shameless, but the first time I heard the song, I found myself crying.

Maybe it was the lyrics about going through Hell and coming out strong that spoke to me, or maybe it was the imagery or perhaps it was the delight I felt at finally seeing someone shed their shitty managed image and being able to showcase their legitimate talent for a change, but the song and its accompanying video filled me with an immensely powerful sense of jubilation.

I can’t help but wonder what other poor performers out there are also secretly insanely amazing? Is Kevin James actually an incognito incarnation of Marlon Brando? Does Justin Bieber actually act like a nice and well-rounded person in private? Sadly, the world may never truly know.

Until then, we can work with Kesha. Though she will never see this, I will speak directly to her for a moment. Ma’am, I am sorry I denigrated you in the past. I was wrong and you’re amazing. Please keep making beautiful music that moves me to tears.

Kirby at 100: Lessons from the King

Today is a day where, like any other day of the year, a lot of things have happened and will happen again in the decades to come. The Ottoman Turks occupied Belgrade on this day in 1521, Emmett Till was murdered by racist assholes and, in 1917, Jacob Kurtzberg was born in New York City.

You know him better as Jack Kirby, the man whose mind made Marvel.

If you’ve walked into a movie theater in the last decade, then you have probably seen his work on screen at one point or another. Captain America, elements of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Uncanny X-Men, drawing the first Spider-Man story and creating the first serious and non-insulting African superhero, the Black Panther. All created by a man who came from nothing.

Though Kirby died in the 90’s, today he is finally getting respect and accolades for his work.

Disney recently declared him to be a company legend, well-known stars like Evangeline Lilly drop his name on Twitter and breathless and sharp write ups on various aspects of his life and legend sometimes appear in well-to-do publications like The New York Times that once dismissed the art form he did his best work in. There are many things we can learn from the man.

How to fight a company with class, drawing and making entertainment that inspires billions of people all over the world, and, perhaps most universally, the right way to treat other people.

Though a lot of comic and superhero fans can be at times a bit…close minded, the father of the medium that has come to dominate our cultural zeitgeist today way anything but. Take a look below at this story concerning what Kirby did when some U.S. Nazi’s came to the Timely (Precursor to Marvel.) offices in order to cause him grief for co-creating Captain America.

“A biographer, longtime Kirby assistant Mark Evanier, described Kirby getting a phone call from someone urging him to come down to the lobby…where three thugs wanted ‘to show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America.’ Kirby, Evanier recalled, ‘rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs’.”

He ended up serving with distinction as a scout in the Second World War, fought at the Battle of the Bulge and came home to further – as we all know by now – shape the fabric of our society. Towards the end of his life, he gave an interview and said the following when asked why he decided to create the Black Panther and not make him into a joke character, as had been the past.

I came up with the Black Panther because I realized I had no blacks in my strip. I’d never drawn a black. I needed a black. I suddenly discovered that I had a lot of black readers. My first friend was a black! And here I was ignoring them because I was associating with everybody else. It suddenly dawned on me — believe me, it was for human reasons — I suddenly discovered nobody was doing blacks. And here I am a leading cartoonist and I wasn’t doing a black. I was the first one to do an Asian. Then I began to realize that there was a whole range of human differences. Remember, in my day, drawing an Asian was drawing Fu Manchu — that’s the only Asian they knew.” 

Language is a bit antiquated to be sure, but that’s pretty enlightened for a guy born in 1917. Ultimately, everyone could learn a thing or two from him on being forward thinking. Unlike so many artists whose work is far better than they are or were as people. Kirby lives up to his portfolio. A real-life Captain America, a quiet and intellectual man like Dr. Strange, and a boisterous and humble cigar chomping badass like Ben Grimm. In a just world, he’d still be alive today and still creating stuff that makes all of us as happy as we are normally with his work.

Long live the King.

Bless Grad School

As I sit down in my childhood bedroom to write this piece, my car is packed, my beloved dog and best friend Raj is (Like myself) antsy and a bit uneasy about the future and, once more, I am preparing to travel to a place I have never been to before in order to take my first post-post-secondary education job. Last time, it was in Kentucky. Now, I’m headed off to Wisconsin.

A few years ago, I thought I was going to make it in the television industry. With an education and a small smattering of experience I figured (Like most morons out of their undergrad.) that I would stumble into something, work my way up after a span of monotonous work and eventually settle into a groove that made me happy and generated a decent enough income that I could live in comfort for the rest of my days or until I got bored and decided to mount a political campaign.

Boy, was I wrong.

Instead, I found myself in a rut. I was unhappy, had no room for advancement, ultimately was worn down by the work and didn’t forge any meaningful connections with my co-workers. After a few months, I and my place of work agreed it was not a good fit and I ended up departing.

Now, normally in a situation like this, people look for some other work in their field and go on to forget the tough time they had at one area. But, I decided to embark on a much different path.

I chose to go (Thanks to the magical and mighty system of student loans!) to graduate school. In my 20’s, I was embarking on a quest for another piece of paper that most people (Or so I think.) don’t bother to get until they’ve been active in their chosen field or field for several years.

Long story short, I thought I’d fuck it up (Like most big things I give a shot and then succeed at.), didn’t and now have a more prestigious level of education. Though many would speak ill of the value of a journalism degree in a day and age where anyone who practices writing a lot can eventually get into the field, I have to say this, my time at A.U. in D.C. was utterly lovely.

I got to make things on a daily basis that were unique and interesting to more than just my usually disinterested parents and other blood relatives, was encouraged by delightfully engaging professors who are experts in their craft and met colleagues who I will be lifelong friends with.

Ultimately, what I am trying to say with this blog is this dear reader. If ever you find yourself in a phase of your life where you are discontent with what you are doing after your time spent getting a bachelor’s degree has reached its end, go to grad school if you can swing it and work on something related to, but different from your original disciplines. You’ll be really glad you did.

Actually…Forget GTA V

Evan J Pretzer Thinks GTA V is Overrated

Hey kids, it’s me here again. and, as is often the case when I am finished with school and on the job hunt, I find myself playing video games in my spare time to make the days progress faster. Lately, after having finished Dishonored 2 and experienced the pain of that games lazy premise three times over, I decided to return to the familiar and well-loved land of Grand Theft Auto V.

When I last left Los Santos, I had finished the main game, still had some random encounters to do and plenty of collectibles, stunt jumps and countless aerial challenges to keep me busy.

Surely, this would be fun, I thought. But, I was mistaken.

In retrospect, I bought into the hype surrounding this piece of entertainment like I had done with countless ones before it. Whereas the story of Grand Theft Auto IV was a fascinating and at times illuminating look into the dark side of the “American Dream”, V is flat and filled with one-note characters that I just didn’t give a shit about when looking at the 2013 released game with my more jaded and cynical 2017 perspective.

Trevor is a psychopath, Franklin is the typical hoodlum trying to rise above the ghetto and Michael is nothing more than the same character we’ve seen in gangster films like Goodfellas and The Godfather: Part 3 countless times over. Say what you will about Niko and his tale, but at least it took a sharp look at what crime does to you.

In addition, in games like this, there’s not much to do when the campaign that can be finished in a weekend winds down. Sure, there’s the wondrous and chaotic grind of Grand Theft Auto Online, but when the developer makes a massive world for players to explore, they need to make more of an effort to populate it with a broad variety of activities. GTA IV had bowling and various other items, The Witcher: Wild Hunt had random quests that revealed themselves to be full of depth when looked at beneath their face value, and GTA V, well, all it has is racing, quick random encounters and the opportunity to go off somewhere and play a few games of darts. In this day and age its boring. Populate your games with more stuff in the future please Rockstar!

And finally, I come to the missing DLC. When this game launched, the developer promised content that would serve as “substantial” additions to the single player mode. As of 2017, its nowhere to be seen. This irks me to no end.

The micro-transaction based multiplayer has gotten countless free updates since its launch, GTA IV had two meaty pieces of story based DLC, and V has gotten nothing. It sucks. Honestly, Rockstar has become similar to EA in their efforts on this post-game support. All they care about is what makes them the most money and not what people who enjoyed their past efforts really want.

I don’t know if I’ll get rid of the game soon or sell it to a pimple-faced prepubescent teen a few years down the road for a few bucks. But, if there’s one thing that I do know from my time revisiting the piece, its this, Rockstar is a great company that has made iconic games, but with the latest entry in their GTA franchise, they got lazy and greedy. Instead of a meaningful story with great DLC, we got a two-dimensional farce with a sub-par micro-transactions based multiplayer.

And that, dear reader, is a sad state of affairs.

This content also appears on my TrueAchievements.com blog