Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: MINI FORCE

My kid’s day care was supposed to have a Father’s Day party today, but I’m kind of pissed at my kid’s day care right now– more on that later, maybe– and so instead I picked him up early and we’ve been having a Daddy/Kenny day at home.  Which means lots of toys (there are Transformers everywhere) and lots of binging terrible Korean animated shows on Netflix.  This is probably the fastest any show has gone from “I’ve never heard of this” to “I must do a CCPR post on this immediately,” by the way.

Meet the Mini Force:

They’re little talking animals.  The pink one is a girl, which I’m sure you’ll all find tremendously surprising.  The red one is a bird, although he doesn’t seem to fly.  Other than the red one, I have no idea what kind of animals they are.  Maybe they’re all cats, other than the bird?  The blue one might be a skunk?  I have no damn clue.  Anyway, they talk.  And they live with a girl named Susie, who in animated kids’ show fashion appears to have no parents or adult influences.  Susie knows they talk and can talk back to them.  They look just like Octonauts.

Here’s how every show goes: each episode starts with a bunch of woodland animals being inconvenienced in some way, most of the time by a purple Shredder-looking dude named Pascal or some robot he’s created.  Sometimes Shredder’s boss is around; he’s dressed like some sort of Spandex-wearing supervillain and I don’t know his name.

The degree of the inconvenience varies.  Sometimes it’s special pop that makes the animals fall asleep.  Sometimes it’s a snake monster that turns them to stone.  The stakes tend to vary.

At any rate, after the animals are inconvenienced, we cut to the four Mini Force dudes at home with Susie.  They have some sort of interpersonal problem that will not be resolved and are then summoned via some sort of blinky device that one of them carries.  Where to?  Not clear at all; they run away and then are suddenly inside some sort of giant complex.  I’m not sure if Susie knows about this part of their lives; she probably wonders where they go all the time.  They meet with a hologram of a cat.  I don’t know what the cat’s name is– they just call him Commander– but he has a mustache and wears sunglasses and a Kangol.  I don’t get it.

If Pascal isn’t the villain, then the robot causing all the trouble will have -mon at the end of its name.  Every time.

Then they become Power Rangers.  I’m not kidding:

Like, the theme music even refers to them as the “Super Rangers Mini Force,” although there’s no credits for Saban anywhere and I’m pretty sure this is just a knockoff and not an official thing.  But anyway.  The very next scene after the transformation, they’ve teleported to wherever the bad guy is– no time for exposition here!– and then there’s a fight. The fights are those Power Rangers-style fights where there’s always time for lots of talking in between people shooting at one another and your weapons have to be summoned by saying very long phrases out loud.

They lose the fight, and one of them is generally incapacitated somehow.  There is a lot of grunting.  Seriously, the dialogue in this show is maybe 60% grunts.  It’s amazing.

After they lose, they summon their “Force Cars.”  Why they didn’t just drive to the fucking fight in the Force Cars isn’t clear.  I assume everyone just sits around while the Force Cars drive out to wherever they are.  The Force Cars are, no shit, Transformers:

Somewhere in here, the villain gets super large, also Power Rangers style.  And not all the time, but sometimes, the Force Cars have to– wait for it– join together to make a single, much larger Force Car.  At which point the show becomes Voltron.  And then they win, and the show ends abruptly, most of the time with no indication of whether the inconvenienced animals at the beginning of the show were ever made better or not.  Maybe they’re still asleep or made from stone or whatever; who knows?

It is impressive to have ripped off that many well-known properties so blatantly and still not have been sued into nonexistence.

In which I don’t think so

Turns out that coming up with compelling blogging material while watching Orange is the New Black is not terribly easy.

Also, I feel like this is not how a prison riot would be dealt with in the real world.  I’m sure this is not the first time OITNB has been referred to as unrealistic but… they’re kinda setting a new record with this one.

Have a Bowling for Soup song.  It’s been running through my head all day.

In which I waste a whole bunch of my time: a #review of IRON FIST

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I have said this before, both on this blog and elsewhere: if you are ever compelled, as a writer in any medium, to create a scenario where your characters are complaining about how dumb your plot is, it is probably time to stop and think very carefully about what you are doing.  If you are writing a show called Iron Fist, about a man whose job it is to be the Iron Fist, and the very first line a character says upon meeting him is “You are the worst Iron Fist ever,” you may be doing something wrong.  It is possible to write a good story about a hero who is terrible at being a hero.  But if you do that, then that’s what your story needs to be about.  You can’t have a hero who is terrible at being a hero and have your story be about something else.  The fact that he or she is terrible is going to take center stage and ruin everything else.

Enter Iron Fist, whose writers clearly do not read my blog.  This post is unnecessary in a whole lot of ways; it took me a while to get through all thirteen episodes– mostly because, again, the show’s awful– and everyone who binged it right away has already weighed in on how bad it is.  They’re all right.  But maybe there’s someone out there who isn’t attuned to the geek press all that much, but reads me for some reason.  Someone who might be saved.

Please don’t watch this show.

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And this doofy shit is the main reason why.  Now, let’s be clear about a few things:  there was a lot of fooferal when the show hadn’t quite come out yet about the fact that Marvel cast a white guy as Iron Fist instead of racebending the character and casting an Asian person instead.  I am sympathetic to those concerns, to say the least.  But even if you’re going to cast a white guy as Iron Fist, because the comic book character is white, Finn Jones is just about the worst possible choice to play the role.  He is awful; awful in every way, he is written to be awful, and the man himself does nothing to corral or channel(*) his character’s intrinsic awfulness.  There is nothing Finn Jones does in this show at any point that is convincing.  He cannot do kung fu, he cannot emote beyond an infantile shaking rage, he absolutely cannot spout anything even vaguely resembling Buddhist philosophy (and I choose the word “resembling” quite deliberately) without sounding like a hipster doofus, and he never once comes off as heroic.  Iron Fist is a sulky hipster doofus with PTSD and all the emotional stability of a ten-year-old.  He is awful.

So is every other white man on the show, by the way.  The show can’t have anyone keep a personality or a set of motivations straight for more than an episode at a time, and there are never ever ever any consequences for anyone’s actions, to the point where there are giant holes blown in one character’s dojo’s ceiling at one point so that machine-gun ninjas can drop through (don’t ask) and those giant holes and broken windows and such are never mentioned again.  Characters display magical powers in one episode and then forget they have them.  Characters are killed, thrown into fish tanks in someone’s home, then never mentioned again.

You could cut every white male character completely out of the show and nothing of any significance would change, at all.  They are, all of them, awful.

Let’s talk about these three:
tmg-article_default_mobileMadame_Gao.jpgI’m having a hell of a time getting the HTML to cooperate, so forgive me, but these three are the only thing that makes the show even vaguely watchable.  Jessica Henwick, who plays Colleen Wing, should have been playing Dani Rand.  Or, alternatively, you could grab this drunken-master badass here– his name is Lewis Tan and he actually auditioned for the park– and have him play Danny Rand.  Between the two of them they are responsible for 100% of the interesting fight scenes in the show.  Every single one.  They are also both maxresdefault.jpgbetter actors than Finn Jones. Wai Ching Ho also returns as Madame Gao, and she’s amazing for every second she’s on screen even if her character’s motivations (and abilities) are more than a little bit of a mess.  The fact that the show had these three people in it and more or less ignored them so that Jones could whine about how tough it is to be white and immensely wealthy and oh also one of the best martial artists in the world but MY PARENTS ARE DEAAADD!!!!
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It’s terrible.  But I think I said that.  I think the only thing that could redeem it is if I watched it again, liveblogged every episode, and then turned it into a chapbook to sell on Amazon and made a million dollars.

(*) So, Iron Fist’s powers come from channeling the power of his “chi” into his fist, making it Like Unto a Thing of Iron, as the comic books used to say all the time and the TV show never does.  TV Danny can’t do that.  I have quite a few Iron Fist comic books, and even more where Iron Fist isn’t the main character but shows up, and I swear to you that Finn Jones does more wanking about his chi in this thirteen hours of show than Iron Fist has done in his entire forty-year history as a comic book character previous to the show coming up.  Comic book Danny Rand’s powers just work, basically whenever he wants them to.  TV Danny Rand’s chi must be balanced, charged, recharged, harnessed, centered, purified, unblocked, hell, every verb in the English language gets applied to Danny’s chi at some point or another; I’m surprised he never has to Smurf the fucking thing.  And hearing him talk about it never stops being ridiculous.  Mostly his powers just don’t work, and mostly his powers don’t work because, in one way or another, he’s an embarrassment to his order and to his job.  He’s the worst Iron Fist ever.  Really.

I hated this damn show.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: ZIG & SHARKO

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So.  ZIG & SHARKO.  See if you can figure out the premise of the show from that top image there; it ain’t complicated.  Getting a strong Wile E. Coyote vibe?  Yeah, that’s not too far off.

There is a mermaid.  Her name is Marina.  There is a shark named Sharko.  There is a… hell, I have no idea what Zig is supposed to be.  Some sort of canine variant?  A hyena?  A Tasmanian devil?  I dunno, but he lives on a volcanic island in the middle of nowhere, and the volcanic island is host to basically every animal that exists when the show calls for it, including– in the episode currently airing on my TV right now, a cheetah (or maybe a leopard?) which is an animal also not generally expected on volcanic islands.

Anyway, Zig wants to eat Marina.  Sharko is Marina’s protector and doesn’t want him to.  Marina is either extraordinarily bubbleheaded or actually special needs in some way and doesn’t generally notice the competition for her bloody death that takes place around her in every episode.

The hermit crab is named Bernie, and he is generally irrelevant.

The show is French, but that doesn’t really matter as there is never any actual speech, just lots of grunting and giggles and random noises.  Much like the aforementioned Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons, here’s the plot of every episode: Zig wants to eat Marina.  He concocts some complicated plan to do so.  Sharko stops him, generally administering a vicious beating along the way.  But it’s way more creepy than RR/WEC ever got, because Marina looks human— well, mostly– and plus she dresses like a mermaid, and is therefore half naked all the time, with bouncy girl parts and such, and… yeah, it makes it weird.  Generally harmless, but definitely a bit weird.

Oh, and then there’s that one super racist episode.  In one episode, shark hunters find Sharko.  They’re Chinese.  They wanna make shark fin soup out of him.  When they see him, they look like this:

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And this happens:

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This show aired in 2011, and not, say, 1943.  I had to take pictures of the TV screen, because I couldn’t find any screencaps online.  How in the fuck?  This is some 1870’s-level Yellow Peril shit right here, with a nice dose of “they all look the same” mixed in for good measure.  The six fishermen in the red literally all move and act exactly the same for the entire episode, and the only noises they make are creepy giggling.

Maybe lose this episode, Netflix.  I doubt anyone will notice.