I love murder mysteries. I love them in movies, I love them in books, I love them in videogames, but most of all, I love them in TV shows. I’m not talking about a simple case of the week, I’m talking about a single, significant case that permeates the season of a TV show and is given around a dozen or more episodes to develop and expand and twist and turn, all leading to the inevitable reveal of whodunit. A good season long murder mystery has led to some of the greatest TV seasons of all time, like with the first two seasons of Veronica Mars, a series I believe perfected the season long murder mystery arc. Nothing feels quite like the rush of putting together the clues and solving the case yourself, and seeing your suspicions confirmed in the electrifying murderer reveal, a moment that should always be a highlight of a show’s season. Unfortunately there are shows that don’t quite grasp this, that completely botch the killer reveal and leave you feeling deflated. Two recent shows that come to mind are Riverdale and Trial and Error. You may think, wait a minute, Trial and Error is a comedy, why does it matter if the killer reveal is good? Well, because revealing a murderer should be powerful no matter the circumstances. Murder, killing another member of your own species, is one of the most human things out there. You can draw so much emotion, and yes, even humour, from it. The taking of another life and why the mastermind of the crime chose to act the way they did should be explored on a character worthy of such exploration. Every murder is a story, and botching the murderer is like botching the protagonist. Since shows seem to be screwing this up recently, I’ve decided to write my own criteria for how to properly handle a murder mystery through the use of 5 important, absolutely correct, inarguable rules that without a doubt must be followed.
Note: “Laptopstein” is the name of the engineer that created my laptop, my laptop should be referred to as Dr. Laptopstein’s Laptop.
The last update on my laptop was a joyous post of celebration. The one before, was a tragedy on the levels of King Lear and Oedipus Rex. Today, I give you an update that brings the status of my laptop in flux, that places its well being between my previous two updates. Between life and death, in the twilight of my triumph and ultimate despair. My laptop has died, but it continues to live. It is currently being torn apart at the seams, but I have found a way to suspend it in something of a stasis. By not closing it anymore, my laptop is no longer in a state of constant structural deterioration. But new problems arose before and after I finally made that decision.
Mob Psycho 100 is an anime that satirizes shonen stories (action anime/manga aimed at boys), pulls them apart, and actually uses their tropes as tools for didactic story telling. With Mob, those dumb action tropes don’t have to be just that, they could also be used as examples as to how one should or shouldn’t live their lives. Cocky guys with super powers that think they’re better than everyone are depicted as deeply insecure, supervillains who want to take over the world aren’t fearsome killers, but are actually manchildren that failed to grow up, and those musclebound jocks that spend all day working out aren’t mean bullies, but are instead people worth admiring because of their desire to improve themselves. That’s what Mob Psycho is at its core, it cuts through the superficiality that defines the shonen genre, and actually arrives at the morals of hard work and teamwork naturally and in a surprisingly grounded way considering its a show about psychics.
Bioware’s latest entry into the acclaimed Mass Effect franchise has become a punchline on the internet. Countless gifs, video compilations, and complaint threads were created in response to its… odd looking character models and animations. Going further, I would argue that the response to the animations and models have overshadowed the game itself, with people unable to get over how “off” they look. It’s understandable, we’re suppose to be in the next generation of gaming, but this game looks noticeably worse than any of its predecessors. How could this happen? I’d imagine many Bioware fans like myself (who has loved them since Knights of the Old Republic) feel baffled as to how they could fail so many who had faith in them. A gaming company whose work was once synonymous with great RPGs has fallen into the pit of being a cautionary tale for the perils of entering the AAA gaming market. The contrarian hipster in me wants to pin the blame for this mess entirely on just that, a big corporation like EA forcing a once pure company to churn out mediocre content for a quick buck, and eventually corrupting them in the process. The problem of course, is that issues like this tend to be far more nuanced.
A big change came to one of the main characters in the live action remake to Disney’s breakthrough animated feature, Beauty and the Beast. No, I’m not just talking about making LeFou gay, I’m also talking about making him “good” too. In the remake to the film, LeFou isn’t the soulless sycophant he is in the original, but rather a confused gay man with a crush on the wrong guy. While this is progress in terms of gay representation, I can’t help but feel like something was loss in the rehabilitation of one of Disney’s most subtly despicable bad guys.
I recently got a chance to see The Lego Batman Movie, and it was amazing. Funny, heartfelt, and the perfect treat for a fan of Batman like myself. It functioned as both the ultimate fan film, and also the best cinematic Batman story since The Dark Knight. I also happened to enjoy it more than the original Lego Movie, which I thought was terrific, but was something I only liked rather than loved. What happened here? How could I prefer a spin-off that was admittedly less ambitious than the film that precipitated it? Well, the answer to that question lies in that ambition itself, and to explore it, I’m going to have to get into some spoilers.
It’s been over two years since I’ve last written one of these joke analyses, but the… enormity of this one really grabbed my attention. Unlike the last joke where I discussed it in largely positive terms, I want to analyze how a joke can actually hurt a show. Because with this bit of comedy, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend basically ruined a main character within a single scene. Let me break it down.
If it wasn’t clear just based off the title, this article will contain spoilers!
*Massive Spoilers for Sherlock Season 4
Damn this film. I hate everything about it. The marketing, the plot, and yeah, the fact that it’s so damn manipulative. OK, I’m the first person to call out people for constantly whining about how everything is “fake” these days, and how consumerist society has become since those tend to be trite criticisms about things people don’t really examine, but boy does this movie make a damn good case for those people. It’s so god damned calculated and clearly designed to make money that it managed to anger me, and again, I’m not usually the kind of person who’d whine about that kind of thing. Almost every creative achievement ever was partly motivated by the thought of making some cash, but this movie is so freaking transparent about it. Maybe that’s what bothers me about it so much, that it’s so utterly graceless in what it’s trying to do.