REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 19-22

 

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report)
Lionel Richie (Pariah)
Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Matt Dillon (Crash)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
Ted Nugent (Private Parts)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Jack Black (King Kong)
Kelsey Grammer (X-men: The Last Stand)
John Mahoney (Frasier)
David Hyde Pierce (Hellboy)
Jon Stewart (The Faculty)
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (Spy Hard)
Kurt Loder (Book of Shadows)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Beverly D’Angelo (American History X)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
John C. Reilly (Step Brothers)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Lance Armstrong (The Armstrong Lie)
Drew Carey (Jack and Jill)
Robert Forster (Heroes)
Denis Leary (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Scott Thompson (Hannibal)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Promise)
Emily Blunt (The Girl On the Train)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Colm Meaney (Get Him To The Greek)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Jodie Foster (The Silence of The Lambs)
Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)
Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street)
Neve Campbell (Scream)
Kim Cattrall (Big Trouble In Little China)
Eartha Kitt (60s Batman)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Angela Bassett (Alias)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Bruno)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Jane Kaczmarek (Pleasentville)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Simon Cowell (Scary Movie 3)
Ellen DeGeneres (EDtv)
Jermaine Clement (Legion)
Stephen Hawkings (The Big Bang Theory)
Lea Michele (Scream Queens)
Corey Monteith (Glee)
Amber Riley (The Wiz Live)
Hugh Laurie (Tomorrowland)
Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rachel Weisz (Runawey Jury)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Katy Perry (The Smurfs)
Martha Stewart (2 Broke Girls)
Jon Hamm (Mad M
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Kristen Wiig (Paul)
Garry Marshall (Life After Beth)
Halle Berry (X-Men)
J.B. Smoove (Date Night)
Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Russell Brand (Get Him To the Greek)
Tommy Chong (Evil Bong)
Cheech Marin (Machete)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Ricky Jay (Flashforward)
Penn & Teller (Sabrina: TTW)
Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers)

The season has some more great episodes, that shows the Simpsons is still a huge juggernaut of a show.

SEASON 19 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

19.1) HE LOVES TO FLY AND HE D’OHS

After Homer saves Mr. Burns from drowning, Mr. Burns rewards him with a dinner and a flight on his corporate jet, making Homer disappointed that he will never be rich or successful enough to enjoy the high life.19.2) THE HOMER OF SEVILLE

A freak accident turns Homer into an opera singer (which can only be achieved if he lies down) and he becomes the toast of Springfield’s cultural elite — and the target of a crazed, motorcycle-riding female fan who blackmails him into becoming his manager.19.3) MIDNIGHT TOWBOY

Homer befriends a tow-truck driver named Louie, who shows Homer what it is like to tow vehicles for a living. Meanwhile, Marge puts Maggie in a special school to help babies become independent, but when the lessons work too well, Marge finds herself tearfully bonding with a sack of potatoes.19.4) I DON’T WANNA WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Marge breaks her promise to visit a disturbed bank robber in prison, and ends up getting kidnapped by him19.7) HUSBANDS AND KNIVES

The Comic Book Guy’s Android Dungeon faces competition with “Coolsville Comics ‘n Toys,” a new comic book store owned by a nicer, more personable store owner named Milo. Meanwhile, Marge creates a gym for the average woman, and a self-conscious Homer resorts to plastic surgery after being told that Marge’s success will lead to her divorcing Homer and getting a younger, handsomer trophy husband.19.8) FUNERAL FOR A FIEND

A night at a rib restaurant turns into yet another plot for Sideshow Bob to kill The Simpson family, but the whole scheme turns into a family affair when Bart kills his mortal enemy by throwing away his nitroglycerine (which Sideshow Bob needs for his heart) and the rest of the Terwiligers go after Bart for killing Bob.19.10) E PLURIBUS WIGGUM

Thanks to Homer’s latest blunder (blowing up every fast-food restaurant in the city), Springfield moves up election day and becomes the first city in the nation to hold primary elections. However, all the media attention and similar-sounding politicians wear on the townspeople’s nerves, so they elect Ralph Wiggum to be the 2008 Presidential candidate as a joke — until Ralph reveals that he wants to be President, so he can bring peace in these divided times.19.13) THE DEBARTED

Bart begins to suspect a rat when all of his pranks backfire — and might have something to do with his new friend, Donny. Meanwhile, Homer grows attached to his rental car, which he gets to drive for a week while his old car gets repaired.Dial_N_for_Nerder19.14) DIAL “N” FOR NERDER

Bart and Lisa’s prank on Martin Prince goes too far and they worry that they may be implicated in his death by the police (and Nelson, who becomes an amateur sleuth). Meanwhile, Marge calls upon the producer of a reality show that specializes in tracking down cheating couples when she begins to suspect that Homer may be cheating…on his diet.19.15) SMOKE ON THE DAUGHTER

Lisa is accepted into a ballet school run by jazz dancer Chazz Busby, and discovers that her dancing improves whenever she is around cigarette smoke. Meanwhile, Homer shows Bart his secret beef jerky project, which has been taken over by raccoonspapa_dont_leach19.16) PAPA DON’T LEECH

When Mayor Quimby launches a campaign to shake down anyone who has not paid taxes in years, Lurleen Lumpkin (the country singer who tried to seduce Homer from the season three episode “Colonel Homer”) hides out at the Simpson house, which does not sit well with Marge (who still cannot forgive her for almost stealing her husband).19.17) APOCALYPSE COW

Bart joins the 4-H Club and befriends a cow named Lou, but when Lou is set to be sent to slaughter, Bart gives Lou to a country girl named Mary — whom he now must marry after finding out that giving a cow to a country girl is considered a marriage proposal in hillbilly tradition.19.19) MONA LEAVES-A

Mona Simpson, Homer’s ’60s radical mother, returns, vowing that her days of protesting are over, but Homer will not accept. Things get worse when Mona dies and her last wishes are to have her ashes spread over the mountains, which turns out to be a plot in stopping a nuclear disaster.

Another series of everyone’s favourite family, another collection of cracking episodes, and with this being the 20th anniversary season there are some classic episodes that show just why the series had staying power.  

SEASON 20 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

20.1) SEX, PIES AND IDIOT SCRAPES

After serving a jail sentence for starting a brawl at an alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day parade, Homer becomes a bounty hunter and tags Flanders along for the ride. Meanwhile, an Irish man gives Marge a job at his bakery, which Marge soon discovers specializes in sexually suggestive pastries.20.2) DOUBLE, DOUBLE BOY IN TROUBLE

Bart meets Simon Woosterfield, a boy who looks exactly like him and is a member of Springfield’s richest family. As a prank, the two decide to switch places, but the joke is on Bart when he discovers that Simon is being targeted for murder by his own siblings.20.6) HOMER AND LISA EXCHANGE CROSS WORDS

Lisa becomes obsessed with crossword puzzles and enters a contest, where Homer places bets against his daughter in order to earn money lost from his couples break-up business.20.7) MYPODS AND BROOMSTICKS

Bart makes friends with a Muslim boy named Bashir and his family, but Homer fears the family may be terrorists because of their religion. Meanwhile, Lisa is given a MyPod and becomes addicted to downloading songs on it20.9) LISA THE DRAMA QUEEN

Lisa meets a new girl named Juliet and helps her write stories about a fantasy world called Equalia, but spending too much time with Juliet (and the story) begins to warp Lisa’s sense of reality.20.10) TAKE MY LIFE PLEASE

After an old high school rival named Vance is honored at on the Springfield Wall of Fame, Homer becomes depressed when he discovers that Principal Dondelinger rigged the student council election so Vance would win. While at an Italian restaurant, a mysterious chef shows Homer how his life would have turned out had he actually won.20.11) HOW THE TEST WAS WON

Bart gets a perfect score on Springfield Elementary’s latest standardized test, leaving Lisa worried that Bart may be smarter than she when Bart is rewarded with a field trip — that turns out to be an elaborate trick into getting the low-testing students (and Principal Skinner) out of the way. Meanwhile, Homer forgets to mail off his insurance payment and must keep himself and the house accident-free until his coverage can be reinstated at 3:00pm.20.12) NO LOAN AGAIN, NATURALLY

The Simpsons get into a mortgage crisis of their own when Homer cannot afford to pay off the money he borrows from his home equity loan (so he can finane his extravagant Mardi Gras parties) and the Simpsons sell their home to Ned Flanders.20.13) GONE MAGGIE GONE

Homer leaves Maggie on the doorstep of a convent, setting off a Da Vinci Code-style chain of events involving Freemasons and the hunt for a rare jewel. Meanwhile, Marge goes blind after viewing an eclipse without an eclipse shoe box viewer and Homer tries to cover up Maggie’s disappearance.20.15) WEDDING FOR DISASTER

When Reverend Lovejoy reveals to Homer and Marge that they are not legally married, Homer and Marge decide to have another wedding to legitimize their union once and for all. But when Marge begins acting like a bridezilla and Homer mysteriously disappears, it is up to Bart and Lisa to save the day.20.16) EENY TEENY MAYA MOE

Moe once again searches for love and falls for a woman named Maya over the Internet. However, when Moe meets Maya face-to-face, he discovers it is more like face-to-knee, as Maya is only three feet tall. Meanwhile, Maggie is put in a playground full of hostile babies.

20.17) THE GOOD, THE SAD AND THE DRUGLY

Bart sets up Milhouse to take the fall for a prank the two of them pulled, and the duo’s friendship becomes strained when Bart falls for a charitable girl named Jenny. Meanwhile, Lisa becomes insane and depressed after reading Internet articles predicting that Springfield will be a barren wasteland in fifty years, and is given anti-depressants that turn her into a mindless zombie.20.19) WAVERLY HILLS, 9-0-2-1-D’OH

While desperately searching for a bathroom during her morning jog, Marge discovers how low-rent Springfield Elementary School really is and moves Bart and Lisa to Waverly Hills Elementary by having Homer rent an apartment there so the city inspector of Waverly Hills does not get suspicious. Meanwhile, Bart helps Lisa become popular by telling others that Lisa is friends with a teenage pop star named Alaska Nebraska.20.21) COMING TO HOMERICA

The citizens of Ogdenville swarm into Springfield in search of work after their local economy plummets, but when the Ogdenvillians’ Norwegian culture begins rubbing off on others, Mayor Quimby hires citizens to act as border patrol.21The argument will rage long after any Simpson season has aired  about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. Some arguably, with genuine gusto. But even after 21 seasons the show still was having an impact and still being very successful.

SEASON 21 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

21.1) HOMER THE WHOPPER

Comic Book Guy creates a new superhero called Everyman who takes powers from other superheroes. Homer is cast as the lead in the film adaptation. To get Homer into shape, the movie studio hires a celebrity fitness trainer, Lyle McCarthy to help him. Homer gets into great shape but his life falls apart when his fitness trainer quits and the movie bombs at the box office.21.2) BART GETS A Z

Mrs. Krabappel is fired for drinking alcohol on the job (thanks to kids in her class spiking her coffee as revenge for confiscating their cell phones and BlackBerrys) and replaced with a hip, young teacher named Zachary Vaughn.21.3) THE GREAT WIFE HOPE

When the men and boys of Springfield become obsessed with Ultimate Fighting, Marge leads a protest against it when she catches Bart fighting in school — and ends up fighting the head of the Ultimate Fighting syndicate in order to have it banned.21.5) THE DEVIL WEARS NADA

Marge becomes a sex symbol after pin-up pictures of her appear on a calendar, which embarrasses Bart and stirs lust in every man in Springfield — including Ned Flanders. Meanwhile, Carl Carlson is chosen as the Springfield Nuclear Plant’s newest supervisor, and Homer gets hired as Carl’s assistant.21.6) PRANK AND GREENS

Bart tracks down an immature man named Andy Hamilton who was once hailed Springfield Elementary’s best prankster, and realizes the man who was once Springfield Elementary’s best prankster has no direction in his life. Meanwhile, Marge is chastised by the other mothers in her social circle for not serving healthy snacks.21.7) REDNECKS AND BROOMSTICKS

Lisa befriends three practicing Wiccans and must save them from being persecuted for their beliefs. Meanwhile, Homer starts hanging out with Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel after discovering that Cletus and his friends make moonshine.21.10) ONCE UPON A TIME IN SPRINGFIELD

The Krusty the Clown Show is once again retooled. This time, in a bid to get girls to watch the show, a princess character named Penelope is hired as Krusty’s latest sidekick, whom Krusty hates at first — until Princess Penelope reveals that she is Krusty’s biggest fan. Meanwhile, a corporate recruiter persuades Homer, Lenny, and Carl to work for a nuclear plant in Capital City, after Mr. Burns announces a moratorium on free doughnuts due to budget cuts.21.12) BOY MEETS CURL

The Simpsons head to the 2010 Winter Olympics where Marge and Homer compete as part of a mixed curling team and Lisa becomes addicted to collecting Olympic pins.21.15) STEALING FIRST BASE

When Mrs. Krabappel takes an extended absence her students join with the other fourth grade class where Bart falls for a girl named Nikki, who alternates between loving him and hating him. The two are seen kissing which leads to a public display of affection ban in the school. Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama teaches Lisa that there is no shame in being an overachieving girl, and Nelson teaches a blind boy the art of being a schoolyard bully.21.17) AMERICAN HISTORY X-CELLENT

Smithers takes over the nuclear plant after Mr. Burns is put in jail for stealing valuable art — and starts acting like his boss when Homer and his friends begin taking advantage of his kindness.21.20) TO SURVEIL WITH LOVE

Radiation seeps out of Homer’s gym bag after a bomb squad blows it up and Springfield officials decide to suspend all civil liberties. Meanwhile, Lisa dyes her hair brown after being mocked for not conforming to the stereotype of the “dumb blonde.”21.21) MOE LETTER BLUES

Homer, Reverend Lovejoy and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon receive a letter from Moe that states he will steal one of their wives. The three get together and try to remember intimate moments between Moe and their wives.21.22) THE BOB NEXT DOOR

Bart becomes convinced that their new neighbor is Sideshow Bob in disguise, but Marge does not believe him and personally takes Bart to the Springfield Maximum Security Prison to prove it.21.23) JUDGE ME TENDER

Moe discovers his talent for judging in competitions and is invited to appear on the show American Idol. Meanwhile, Homer drives Marge crazy when he starts spending too much time at home, and takes up golf as a hobby.

22Very few shows have the staying Power as the Simpsons, evenfor the casual viewer there is still plenty to love.

SEASON 22 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

22.1) ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MUSICAL

Lisa attends a performing arts camp and is inspired to “embrace her creative side” by her counselors and fellow campers. When she returns, Lisa fails to readjust to her mundane life and attempts to recapture her “inner hipster”.22.3) MONEYBART

Lisa coaches Bart’s Little League baseball team to a record winning streak by putting her book smarts in statistics and probability into play. But when Bart questions Lisa’s coaching tactics and confronts her for taking the fun out of baseball, Lisa benches him from the championship game.22.5) LISA SIMPSON, THIS ISN’T YOUR LIFE

When Lisa finds out that Marge used to be as smart as Lisa before she slacked off, Lisa decides to buckle down (including sacrificing her love of arts and music) and not make the same mistake her mother did. Meanwhile, Bart publicly humiliates Nelson and becomes the school’s new bully.22.6) THE FULL MONTY

Mr. Burns is branded a social pariah after buying vaccinations created for a fictitious illness cooked up by the media and ends up as The Simpsons’ latest houseguest after a suicide attempt.22.9) DONNIE FATSO

An FBI agent and Homer (who’s trying to work off his criminal charge for bribery) infiltrate Fat Tony’s mob, and meet Fat Tony’s cousin, Fit Tony.22.10) MOMS I’D LIKE TO FORGET

After Bart discovers a boy with a similar scar on his arm, Marge reveals that she was a part of a group called “The Cool Moms,” who used to set up playdates with their children and the two decide to reunite with their old friends.22.11) FLAMING MOE

Moe Szyslak and Waylon Smithers turn Moe’s tavern into an ultra-trendy gay bar after Smithers is rejected from Mr. Burns’s will and Moe’s business is (once again) in a slump. Meanwhile, Principal Skinner tries to date the substitute music teacher and sets her daughter up with Bart22.13) THE BLUE AND THE GRAY

Moe hires Homer to be his wingman so he can score a date, but Homer ends up being the babe magnet. Meanwhile, Marge is shocked to find that her hairdresser has been dyeing her hair blue all these years (despite that the season five episode “Secrets to a Successful Marriage” revealed that Marge “…has been as gray as a mule since she was 17” and that she regularly dyes her hair herself rather than visit a salon) and decides to go gray for a new, mature look.22.14) ANGRY DAD: THE MOVIE

Bart and Homer revisit their web series “Angry Dad” (from season 13’s “I Am Furious Yellow”) and turn it into an animated short that quickly gains an Oscar nomination, but Bart does not want Homer to get all the glory, so he sends his father away when the Simpsons go (back) to Hollywood.22.16) A MIDSUMMERS NICE DREAM

1970s stoner comedians Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin decide to break up after each of them get a new comedy partner — Homer pairs up with Cheech to become “Cheech and Chunk” while Principal Skinner joins Chong to become “Teach and Chong.” Meanwhile, Marge stages an intervention for The Crazy Cat Lady after noticing that she’s hoarding animals — which turns Marge into a hoarder herself.22.17) LOVE IS A MANY STRANGLED THING

Homer is sent to parenting therapy after tickling Bart until he wets his pants during a football game, but when the therapist is shocked to hear that Homer regularly physically abuses Bart, he puts Homer through shock treatment by having Kareem Abdul-Jabbar strangle him to make Homer feel as weak and helpless as Bart.22.19) THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF FAT TONY

Fat Tony and Selma get married, prompting Marge to worry about her sister’s safety. Meanwhile, Lisa uses Bart to find truffles.22.22) THE NED-LIEST CATCH

Ned Flanders begins dating Mrs. Krabappel after saving her from a prank gone bad — until Flanders realizes that Mrs. Krabappel has left a trail of tears behind her from the men she dated before (including Aerosmith drummer, Joey Kramer).These seasons still have comedy gold in them and still shows why the Simpsons are still going strong.

REVIEW: FLATLINERS (2017)

Starring

Ellen Page (The Umbrella Academy)
Diego Luna (Rogue One)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
James Norton (Rush)
Kiersey Clemons (Bad Neighbours 2)
Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys)
Beau Mirchoff (I Am Number Four)
Steve Byers (Immortals)

Ellen Page, Martha Girvin, Beau Mirchoff, Nina Dobrev, Emily Piggford, and Jelena Savic in Flatliners (2017)A medical student, Courtney (Ellen Page), is obsessed with the idea of the afterlife, wanting to find out what happens after death. She invites fellow students Jamie (James Norton) and Sophia (Kiersey Clemons) to join her in an experiment, in an unused hospital room: using defibrillation to stop her heart for sixty seconds while recording her brain, and then reviving her. She assures them they would not be held responsible for any accidents. Sophia is against this, but Jamie does it anyway. After sixty seconds, they panic as they are unable to revive her, but eventually manage to with the help of fellow student Ray (Diego Luna). Later, Marlo (Nina Dobrev), a rival of Ray, arrives and learns of the experiment.Ellen Page in Flatliners (2017)Initially Courtney begins to recall memories of past events such as her grandmother’s recipe for bread. Courtney experiences increased intelligence and euphoria, being suddenly able to play the piano after 12 years and answer questions in class perfectly. Envious, Jamie flatlines, but has a disturbing near death experience as he meets his ex-girlfriend. Marlo and Sophia follow suit and flatline, for an increasing number of minutes. During Sophia’s turn they are nearly caught and flee the hospital and arrive at a party. Courtney and Jamie start seeing visions of past mistakes, but do not tell the others.Ellen Page and James Norton in Flatliners (2017)It soon turns into a living horror as those who flatlined find themselves haunted by their visions: Courtney is haunted by her dead sister Tessa from a car crash she caused because she was using her phone. Jamie is haunted by the baby of his ex-girlfriend whom he got pregnant and begged to get an abortion. Marlo is haunted by a man named Cyrus (who was stung by jellyfish) whom she killed when she accidentally mixed up his medication, and Sophia is haunted by a girl named Irina whose life she ruined out of jealousy by hacking her phone and sending out her nudes. This allowed Sophia to become valedictorian. They realize there is a downside to flatlining.Kiefer Sutherland, Ellen Page, and Nina Dobrev in Flatliners (2017)The hauntings get more and more intense. Courtney, traumatised by her visions, records a message apologising for the consequences and admitting that her interest in flatlining was due to the death of her sister, not for scientific discovery. Shortly after, she is chased by visions of her dead sister and falls to her death from the fire escape of her apartment building after her sister’s ghost appears in front of her and pushes her off. The others are devastated when they learn of Courtney’s death and then panic when they realize they may be implicated if anyone discovers their experiments. After attempting to remove all notes and evidence from Courtney’s apartment, Marlo is sent to the morgue to find Courtney’s phone. She is once again haunted by visions. Meanwhile, on his boat, Jamie again hears the cries of a baby and a woman weeping. He falls out of his boat and swims to the dock where a figure stabs him in his hand.Diego Luna, Ellen Page, Nina Dobrev, and James Norton in Flatliners (2017)The group watches Courtney’s recording and find out that she had encountered similar hauntings. They come clean to the mistakes that they made and soon come to the conclusion that the hauntings they’re experiencing are their hallucinations because of guilt from their past sins, not paranormal beings. Ray, the only one who didn’t flatline, initially disbelieves what’s happening. The group takes action to stop the hallucinations by fixing their past mistakes. Sophia visits Irina to apologize, which Irina accepts. Jamie visits his ex-girlfriend and discovers she didn’t get an abortion, but kept the baby; he apologizes and promises to provide for his son. Later, Ray and Marlo get into a fight when Ray finds out Marlo covered up the real reason Cyrus died and she refuses to come clean. Marlo hallucinates being suffocated while driving and crashes her car. Tired of being haunted by her hallucinations, Marlo flatlines on her own in the hope of asking forgiveness of the patient that died due to her mistake.Kiersey Clemons in Flatliners (2017)Ray, Sophia, and Jamie rush to stop her and are successful in resuscitating Marlo after she sees an apparition of Courtney who tells Marlo that she needs to forgive herself. In the end, Marlo, Ray, Sophia, and Jamie reminisce about Courtney and celebrate their friendships in the little restaurant they hang out at, where there is a performance of the piano piece that Courtney played. The movie ends with Jamie proposing a toast, honoring Courtney.Nina Dobrev in Flatliners (2017)Flatliners is never boring, capturing the fun lives of the up and coming professionals of tomorrow, and the horror of when things go terribly wrong. The latter however is not given the depth it deserves, and coupled with its weak conclusion, the richness of the films potential goes largely untouched.

REVIEW: THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY – SEASON 1

Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Aidan Gallagher, and Emmy Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy (2019)

Starring

Ellen Page (Hard Candy)
Tom Hopper (Game of Thrones)
David Castañeda (Forces of Nature)
Emmy Raver-Lampman (Wednesdays)
Robert Sheehan (Mortal Engines)
Aidan Gallagher (Jacked Up)
Mary J. Blige (Body Cam)
Cameron Britton (The Girl In The Spider’s Web)
John Magaro (Overlord)
Adam Godley (Breaking Bad)
Colm Feore (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Jordan Claire Robbins (Anon)

T.J. McGibbon, Cameron Brodeur, Eden Cupid, Ethan Hwang, Blake Talabis, and Jesse Noah Gruman in The Umbrella Academy (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kate Walsh (13 Reasons wehy
Ashley Madekwe (Venus)
Emily Piggford (Killjoys)
Cody Ray Thompson (The Man In The High Castle)
Peter Outerbridge (ReGenesis)
Rainbow Sun Francks (Stargate: Atlantis)

Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, and Emmy Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy (2019)Move over, Marvel – Netflix has a new superhero franchise, and if anything, it’s even more twisted, bloody, and unpredictable than the street-level adventures of The Defenders. Despite Netflix’s decision to jettison many of its Marvel properties, it’s somewhat unfair to compare The Umbrella Academy to the likes of Daredevil and Iron Fist – aside from their comic book origins, the shows are attempting to do very different things; The Umbrella Academy focuses on a dysfunctional family of heroes, who are drawn together by an eccentric and emotionally distant billionaire and tasked with saving the world from annihilation (with a healthy dose of time travel, dancing, and a talking chimpanzee thrown in).The Umbrella Academy (2019)In that way, it has much more in common with DC’s Doom Patrol (a comic that creator Gerard Way has long cited as an inspiration for his own team of misfits, and even previously wrote for), which is why it’s both ironic and strangely poetic that Netflix is launching the series on the same day DC Universe is debuting its decidedly NSFW adaptation of Doom Patrol (check out our premiere review here), based heavily on the Grant Morrison run of comics that also inspired Way’s writing.The Umbrella Academy (2019)Basically, 2019 is an embarrassment of riches for comic book fans – The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol are two of the best superhero shows in recent years, blending self-aware humor with stylish storytelling as a way to deconstruct an already overpopulated genre. Plus, their different delivery methods (DC is debuting new episodes of Doom Patrol weekly, as opposed to Netflix’s binge model) ensure that we’ll have plenty of time to compare their approaches as they carve out a very different niche from Marvel’s streaming shows.Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, and Emmy Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy (2019)The first episode of Umbrella Academy has to do a lot of heavy lifting to introduce viewers to the seven super-powered children who were adopted – or, more accurately, bought – by Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) as babies to be raised into a world-saving team, while also establishing the troubling family dynamics that left them estranged as adults. The show throws a lot of information at viewers up front, but manages to make the exposition engaging and fairly zippy – thanks in large part to its charismatic cast and some truly inspired needle drops. (The soundtrack is consistently awesome throughout, adding a madcap energy to even the most incongruous scenes.)Colm Feore, Dante Albidone, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Brodeur, Eden Cupid, Ethan Hwang, and Blake Talabis in The Umbrella Academy (2019)There’s something to love about every member of the Hargreeves family, from Tom Hopper’s super-strong – and super repressed – golden boy Luther (aka Number 1); to Robert Sheehan’s mischievous, drug-addicted Klaus (Number 4) who can speak to dead people; all the way through to Ellen Page’s Vanya (Number 7), who can… play the violin really well, but has spent her life left out of her super-powered siblings’ adventures.Ellen Page in The Umbrella Academy (2019)But the true revelation of the show is Aidan Gallagher as Number Five, a crotchety time-traveler who has lived into old age after getting stuck in the future but is now trapped in his teenage form, and has witnessed the impending apocalypse firsthand. Five’s return (and his warning about the end of the world) is the catalyst for much of the story, and Gallagher strikes the perfect balance of worldly and world-weary without ever seeming precocious. After a couple of episodes, you’ll be convinced that the 15-year-old really is a grumpy old man in a kid’s body, and his snark – especially in combination with Sheehan’s gleeful lunacy – is the highlight of the series.Ellen Page in The Umbrella Academy (2019)While the show is a fairly faithful, if simplified, adaptation of Way and Gabriel Bá’s comics (with a few pivotal deviations), the interplay between the siblings is more compelling than the mystery at its core, which can sometimes feel like an afterthought compared to the family drama. You’ll likely have more fun trying to figure out the various rifts, rivalries, and connections that have forged and fractured this team than you will attempting to decipher all the clues that are leading towards the apocalypse. Diego (David Castañeda), aka Number 2, is a prickly loner who has spent his life trying to step out from Luther’s shadow, but the deep wounds he carries from a lifetime of playing second fiddle make for a surprisingly poignant character arc. Likewise, Emmy Raver-Lampman’s Allison (Number 3) is the only member of the family who seems to be trying to learn from her past mistakes, and her connections with both Luther and Vanya give the season much of its heart.Tom Hopper in The Umbrella Academy (2019)The show is also stylish as hell; the action scenes – of which there are plenty – are filmed with a kinetic, visually inventive flair, utilizing slo-mo, split-screen, and constantly-moving cameras to create an impressive sense of momentum without ever feeling messy or confusing. Netflix and Universal Cable Productions, the studio behind the show, definitely haven’t skimped on the scale – many of the effects are cinematic in scope, especially Weta’s gorgeous work on Pogo, Sir Reginald’s chimpanzee assistant, who looks like he wandered right off the set of War for the Planet of the Apes. Tonally, Umbrella Academy isn’t quite as meta as the likes of Deadpool or Doom Patrol, but its wicked sense of humor is in full effect throughout, giving it a playful and sometimes deliciously sick attitude, with a smattering of gory visual gags.Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Aidan Gallagher, and Emmy Raver-Lampman in The Umbrella Academy (2019)The Umbrella Academy should comfortably fill the void that Netflix’s Marvel cancellations have left in our viewing schedules. (Okay, we’re still not over Daredevil, but the other two, at least.) Showrunner Steve Blackman has created a hilariously twisted, subversively stylish, and surprisingly poignant new superhero series that serves as both a witty deconstruction of our favorite comic book tropes and an ambitious, time-bending romp. Despite some bloat around the midseason mark and a few underdeveloped supporting characters, this is an undeniably super new series.

 

REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST -THE ROGUE CUT

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CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
James McAvoy (wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy)
Anna Paquin (She’s All That)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ian Mckellan (Lord of The Rings)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Omar Sy (Jurassic world)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Josh Helman (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Daniel Curdmore (Warcraft)
Fan Bingbing (Iron Man 3)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Jason Marsden (Hop)
Lucas Til (Walk The Line)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)

Yes, this is even better than what we saw in the cinema. The theatrical version was very good, though we already knew that Rogue had been cut completely from the movie to make a more streamlined narrative (and possibly to meet studio demands over running time). Now the missing 17 minutes have been reinstated. We get a longer section in the future before the time travel takes place, a mission to rescue Rogue so she can take over from an injured and flagging Kitty, and a new section with Mystique visiting the mansion.

The extended future section gives additional dialogue to Bishop and also Storm – many viewers wanted more from the dystopian future and this goes a good way to satisfying that. And although Anna Paquin’s Rogue is reduced once again to a damsel in distress, the rescue mission is good and Paquin has a strong presence that’s very promising if we ever get to see any more of her version of Rogue. It also indicates that, like Magneto, her powers did return after she elected to be cured in X-Men: The Last Stand. The scene with Mystique at the mansion doesn’t feel so compelling, though it does continue the discussion with Beast over embracing one’s true self. Both versions of the film are very good, but for me the Rogue Cut feels a little more rounded. The mission to rescue Rogue fits in fine amid the film’s last act when everything becomes desperate and tense and the action really steps up, with parallels between past and future.MV5BMTc3ODkwNzQwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA2NDI0MTE@._V1_This is a two disc set and it does also contain the original cinema version of the film. Disc 1 also contains a commentary by director Bryan Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg for the original cinema version, and a commentary by Bryan Singer and composer/editor John Ottman on the Rogue Cut. Disc 2 has special features including Mutant vs Machine (a 9-part making of documentary), X-Men Unguarded (informal conversations with the cast, it takes them a while to relax and get going but it’s quite nice to watch and hear what they think), a sneak peak of the new Fantastic Four and some image galleries.MV5BMTQ3NzEwODYzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTk1NDI0MTE@._V1_A great new cut for a great film.

REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
James McAvoy (wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy)
Anna Paquin (She’s All That)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ian McKellan (Lord of The Rings)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Omar Sy (Jurassic world)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Josh Helman (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Daniel Curdmore (Warcraft)
Fan Bingbing (Iron Man 3)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Jason Marsden (Hop)
Lucas Til (Walk The Line)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)
In the future, robots known as Sentinels are exterminating mutants and their human allies. A band of mutants, including Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Iceman, Bishop, Warpath, Blink and Sunspot, evade the Sentinels due to Pryde’s ability to send a person’s consciousness to the past. Pryde’s group convenes with Logan, Storm, Professor Charles Xavier, and Erik Lehnsherr at a monastery in China. Pryde sends Logan’s consciousness 50 years back in time to 1973 to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels. Following the assassination, Mystique was captured, and her DNA was used by Trask’s company to improve the Sentinels, whose ability to adapt to any mutant power makes them almost invincible. Xavier and Lehnsherr advise Logan to find both of their younger selves for help.
 At the X-Mansion in 1973, Logan encounters Xavier and Hank McCoy. Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters has closed after most of the teachers and students were drafted to the Vietnam War. Xavier, a broken man, has been overusing a serum that allows him to walk, but suppresses his telepathy. Logan explains his mission and persuades Xavier to help free Lehnsherr from a prison cell beneath The Pentagon, where he is being held for allegedly assassinating President John F. Kennedy. They rescue Lehnsherr with the help of Peter Maximoff, a mutant with super speed.
In Washington, D.C., Trask unsuccessfully tries to sway Congress to gain support for his Sentinel program. Meanwhile, in Saigon, Mystique prevents William Stryker from appropriating a group of mutant G.I.s for Trask’s research. Mystique investigates Trask’s office and discovers he has been capturing mutants to use for his experiments. Xavier, Lehnsherr, McCoy, and Logan fly to Paris to intercept Mystique, who is impersonating a North Vietnamese general to infiltrate the Paris Peace Accords. There, Trask attempts to sell his Sentinel technology to Communist nations. Xavier’s group arrives as Mystique is about to kill Trask. Lehnsherr tries to kill Mystique to ensure her DNA cannot be used for the Sentinels, but she jumps from a window. The fight spills onto the street in view of the public, allowing Lehnsherr and Mystique to escape.
Trask is saved, but the world is horrified by the existence of mutants. President Richard Nixon approves Trask’s Sentinel program and arranges an unveiling ceremony. Trask’s scientists recover Mystique’s blood from the street. Meanwhile, Lehnsherr—who has recovered his telepathy-blocking helmet—intercepts the prototype Sentinels in transit and laces their polymer-based frames with steel, allowing him to control them. At the mansion, Xavier stops taking his serum and slowly regains his telepathic powers, while losing the ability to walk. Through Logan, Xavier speaks to his future self and is inspired to work for peace between humans and mutants once again. He uses Cerebro to track Mystique, who is heading to Washington, D.C.
As Xavier, Logan, and McCoy search for Mystique, Nixon unveils the Sentinel prototypes at the White House. Lehnsherr commandeers the Sentinels and attacks the crowd, then sets the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium around the White House as a barricade. Nixon and Trask, accompanied by the Cabinet, Secret Service officers, and Mystique (disguised as a Secret Service member), are taken to a safe room. Logan and McCoy try to stop Lehnsherr, but he pits a Sentinel against them and then throws Logan into the Potomac River. In the future, the X-Men make their final stand as a large army of Sentinels attack the monastery. In 1973, Lehnsherr pulls the safe room from the White House and prepares to kill Nixon and his Cabinet. Mystique, who is disguised as Nixon, incapacitates Lehnsherr with a plastic gun. Xavier persuades Mystique to spare Trask and allows her and Lehnsherr to flee. Mystique’s actions are seen as a mutant saving the President, leading to the cancellation of the Sentinel program. Trask is arrested for trying to sell American military secrets.
Logan wakes up in the future to find Iceman, Rogue, Colossus, Pryde, McCoy, Storm, Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and Xavier are all alive. In 1973, Mystique, impersonating Stryker, takes custody of Logan. In a post-credits scene, a crowd chants to En Sabah Nur, who is using telekinesis to build pyramids as four horsemen watch from nearby.
The latest addition to the x-men series works well, using many of the original cast with those introduced in X-Men First Class. And it it does it very well. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, with their stage and theatre backgrounds set the bar very high when the first film came out in 2000. Bringing them back through the use of time travel and the sentinels story makes for a terrifically entertaining film.

REVIEW: X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

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CAST

Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Hugh Jackman (Swordfish)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
James Marsden (Westworld)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Anna Paquin (true Blood)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Aaron Stanford (The Hills Have Eyes)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Kea Wong (Snow Day)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Vinnie Jones (Mean Machine)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Michael Murphy (Batman Returns)
Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Adjustment Bureau)
Bill Duke (Bird on a Wire)
Eric Dane (Grey’s Anatomy)
Meiling Melançon (Rush Hour 2)
Ken Leung (Lost)
Cameron Bright (Godsend)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Bryce Hodgson (Izombie)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Julian Richings (Man of Steel)
Aaron Pearl (Staragte SG.1)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)

Twenty years in the past, Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet young Jean Grey at her parents’ house to invite her to join their school, the X-Mansion. Ten years later, the industrialist father of Warren Worthington III discovers his son is a mutant as Warren tries to cut off his wings.In the present, Worthington Labs announces it has developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities, and offer the “cure” to any mutant who wants it. The cure is created from the genome of a young mutant named Jimmy, who lives at the Worthington facility on Alcatraz Island. While some mutants are interested in the cure, including the X-Men’s Rogue, many others are horrified by the announcement. Lehnsherr re-establishes his Brotherhood of Mutants with those who oppose the cure, warning his followers that the cure will be forcefully used to exterminate the mutant race.With help from Pyro, Lehnsherr recruits Callisto and several other mutants. They attack the mobile prison holding Mystique to free her, also freeing Juggernaut and Multiple Man. Mystique saves Lehnsherr by taking a shot of the mutant cure aimed at him, rendering her human. Hateful of humans, Lehnsherr abandons Mystique, much to her shock. Meanwhile, Scott Summers, still distraught over the loss of his fiancée, Jean Grey, drives to her resting location at Alkali Lake. Jean appears to Summers but, as the two kiss, Jean kills him. Sensing trouble, Xavier sends Logan and Storm to investigate. When they arrive, they find only telekinetically floating rocks, Summers’ glasses, and an unconscious Jean.When they return to the X-Mansion, Xavier explains to Logan that when Jean sacrificed herself, she also freed the “Phoenix”, a dark and powerful alternate personality which Xavier had telepathically repressed, fearing the Phoenix’s destructive potential. Logan is disgusted to learn of this psychic tampering with Jean’s mind but, once she awakens, he discovers that she killed Summers and is not the Jean Grey he once knew. The Phoenix emerges, knocks out Logan, and escapes to her childhood home.Lehnsherr learns of Jean’s resurrection through Callisto, and the X-Men arrive at the Grey home at the same time as the Brotherhood. Lehnsherr and Xavier go in alone, and both vie for Jean’s loyalty until the Phoenix resurfaces. She destroys the house and disintegrates Xavier before leaving with Lehnsherr. The Brotherhood decides to strike Worthington Labs, and the government sends multiple teams to attack the Brotherhood’s base in the forest, with information gained from Mystique, furious over Lehnsherr’s betrayal. However, the life forms in the camp are all copies of Multiple Man, and Lehnsherr uses his powers to move the Golden Gate Bridge so he and his army can get to Alcatraz and facilitate the attack on Worthington Labs. The remaining X-Men confront the Brotherhood, despite being significantly outnumbered, and arrive just as the military troops who thus far have been neutralizing the attacking mutants are overwhelmed by the Brotherhood.During the fight, Kitty Pryde saves Jimmy from Juggernaut, who had been sent to kill him. Logan has Colossus throw him at Lehnsherr and distract him long enough for Hank McCoy to inject Lehnsherr with the “cure” and thus nullify his powers. Army reinforcements arrive and shoot at Jean just as Logan had calmed her down. The Phoenix is awakened by the attack and disintegrates the troops in retaliation. The Phoenix then begins to destroy Alcatraz and anyone within range of her powers. Logan realizes that only he can stop the Phoenix due to his healing factor. When Logan approaches her, Jean momentarily gains control and begs him to save her. Logan fatally stabs Jean, destroying the Phoenix, but mourns for her death.Sometime later, mutant rights are finally obtained and Xavier’s school is still operating with Storm as headmistress. The President of the United States appoints McCoy as ambassador to the United Nations. Rogue reveals to Bobby Drake that she has taken the cure, much to his disappointment. Meanwhile, Lehnsherr sits alone at a chessboard in a San Francisco park. As he gestures toward a metal chess piece, it wobbles slightly, indicating his powers to be returning and the “cure” to be temporary. In a post-credits scene, Moira MacTaggert checks on a comatose patient who greets her with Xavier’s voice, leaving her startled.Not the greatest of the X-Men films, but not too bad nonetheless. I enjoyed it, some of the action set pieces are very impressive.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 11-15

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Christina Milian (Bring it On 5)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Carrie Fisher (Star wars)
Dana Gould (Mob City)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Christine Lakin (Valetnine’s Day)
Bill Maher (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Ashley Tisdale (Scary Movie 5)
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Adam Carolla (Two Guys and a Girl)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Jessica Stroup (Ted)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Cheryl Tiegs (The Brown Bunny)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Julie Hagerty (Airplane)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Chris O’ Dowd (St. Vincent)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher TV)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Marlee Matlin (My Name Is Earl)
Sara Fletcher (Icrime)
David Herman (Futurama)
Ellen Page (Super)
Ricky Gevais (Ghost Town)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Martin Spanjers (8 Simple Rules)
Dan Castellaneta (Fantastic Four)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
John De Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Will Sasso (Anger Management)
Emily Osment (Mom)
Megan Hilty (The Good Wife)
Jessica Biel (New Girl)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)
Tony Sirico (Goodfellas)
Ashley Benson (Spring Breakers)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Lauran Bacall (The Big Sleep)
Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Keke Palmer (Scream Queens)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
David Thewlis (Harry Potter)
Hank Azaria (The SMurfs)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Julie Kavner (Rhoda)
Yeardley Smith (As Good As It Gets)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Maya Rudlph (Bridesmaids)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Ana Gasteyer (What A Woman Wants)
Glenn Howerton (That 80s Show)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Nat Faxon (The Descendants)
Harvey Fierstein (Mulan)
Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)

Season 11 is really the reamaing of episodes of season 9 but by now you get use to the dvd season. great epsiodes and more greats jokes and anyones fair game, be it the spiritual, who get assaulted in “Brian Writes a Bestseller,” as the dog writes a quickie self-help guide, but can’t defend it against Bill Maher’s questions, pretty much any minority and Meg, the family’s socially-awkward daughter, who not only tries to weasel her way into wheelchair-bound Joe’s life, but hooks up with her brother. Nazis, a standard part of the show after so many years, get their moment to shine as well, as the neighborhood pedophile Herbert recognizes Chris’ new friend as a war criminal, setting up an epic old-man fight, and perhaps one of the few times in history where you might find yourself rooting for a kid-toucher.
One of strangest jokes is where Peter is reminiscing about 1985, and notes that it gave us the gayest music video ever, before showing nearly half of David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s “Dancing in the Streets.” As it plays, you start wondering when we’ll get back to the show, before beginning to question if we’re ever going back. And then you start questioning how the video ever came into existence. Then you ask, how did they get the rights to use it in the show this way? Then you kind of forget you’re watching Family Guy. Then you kind of wish you were watching the video again, but that was the point of the episode doing it to mind screw you.

 This season is a pretty strong one. It has the mean-spirited episode is Screams Of Silence: The Story Of Brenda Q and it’s not only the strangest episode on the season but one of the strangest of the entire series. Basically Glenn’s sister gets into an abusive relationship and he, Peter and Joe decide to take care of the problem. The episode gets increasingly darker as it plays out and the ending, which is presented straight and without any obvious irony or attempt at humor, is pretty grim. The crew should get credit for tackling a serious social issue with at least some semblance of seriousness but is this really the right format to raise an issue like this? Opinions will vary, obviously, but this episode is twisted.

Aside from that, it’s more or less business as usual. There are some fun celebrity cameos here, the most obvious one being Ricky Gervais who provides the voice of a dolphin who helps Peter out and then demands a ridiculous amount of favors in return. The Lottery Fever series opener is a fun one which shows not only how Peter behaves after winning the lottery but how those around him will leach off of him when he does. We get to see Brian take mushrooms before a hurricane hits the town and then watch him trip out and see some seriously bizarre hallucinations. The Back To The Pilot episode also stands out as we see Stewie travel back with Brian in tow to January 31, 1999 (which was the broadcast date of the series’ first episode). This shows how the series has changed over the years and also how in just as many ways it has stayed the same.

Quahog news anchor Tom Tucker gets the spotlight in Tom Tucker: The Man And His Dream in which we learn about his acting career. It seems he played Michael Myers in Halloween IV and once Peter learns that, he and James Woods get involved in resurrecting his thesping profession. In Killer Queen Peter and Chris wind up at fat camp where a serial killer is at work, while back in Quahog, Stewie is terrified by the artwork of Queen’s New Of The World album cover. H. Jon Benjamin from Bob’s Burgers and a bunch of other great credits does a guest voice here. Stewie falls for a girl named Penelope, voiced by Kate Blanchett, in Mr. And Mrs. Stewie but of course that can’t end well even if she shares his love of weapons and math. Tea Party is another stand out. When Peter tries to open his own business and gets shut down, he becomes an advocate for small government and takes hardcore conservative Tea Party ideas to ridiculous extremes with predictably funny results.

All in all, this is a pretty great season. It’s also fairly daring, not that the show has ever really shied away from controversy but they definitely push things on a visual level here. That’s not a bad thing, so long as you’re accepting of the fact that as offensive as the series can be, it’s an equal opportunity offender and it provides a great opportunity to laugh at the absurdity that is all around us on a daily basis.

So how does this season hold up? In a lot of ways, it’s more of the same, but at the same time, by being more of the same there’s a certain expectation of unpredictability that this collection consistently meets and occasionally exceeds. You get to a point in the show where you expect the unexpected, and there’s a whole lot of unexpected to appreciate this time around. The season starts off strong with Into Fat Air where Lois runs into an ex-boyfriend who boasts about his family’s accomplishments. This gets Lois feeling competitive and before you know it, the Griffins are climbing Mount Everest. Shades of Alive run deep in this particularly perverse episode. The show takes on the Nielson Ratings in Ratings Guy. When the Griffins are selected to a Nielson family, Peter goes for a blatant abuse of his power to shape TV to his liking but is then tasked with trying to set things right. It’s actually a pretty amusing take at the fickle viewing habits of the general public. The health care industry and its corporate ties are taken on in The Big C when Peter finds out that his father in law has been keeping the cure for cancer his corporation has discovered secret in the name of making more profits off of treatment. As irreverent as this series gets, this episode will at least get you thinking.Family Guy (1998)The seemingly obligatory time travel episode in this season is Yug Ylimaf and once again Stewie and Brian cruise back in time and goof off. It’s old hat at this point but there’s comfort in familiarity. We get to learn more about Joe’s disability when the man who shot him and confined him to a live in a wheelchair goes on the lam and Peter, Joe and Quaigmire hunt him down to get revenge. The Jesus, Mary and Joseph! episode lets Peter tell us his own version of the Nativity Story in what is essentially a Christmas episode gone awry. Nothing is sacred, fans know that by now. Quagmire is the focus of The Giggity Wife, an episode that shows what happens when Glenn marries a skaggy old hooker on a trip with Peter and Joe. He realizes quickly that this was a horrible idea but she won’t grant him a divorce. Glenn tries to convince her that he’s actually gay, with Peter’s help. In Chris Cross the elder Griffin son swipes some money from his parents to go out and buy some cool new sneakers. When Meg finds out, she blackmails him but Chris quickly has his fill and decides to go live down the street with everyone’s favorite pedophile, his old friend Herbert. Meanwhile, Stewie convinces Brian to help him track down Canadian songstress Anne Murray. In Call Girl Lois uses her voice to make some extra money as a phone sex operator and in Turban Cowboy Peter befriends a Muslim and then converts to Islam. Phone sex might not be so topical these days, but the Islam episodes pushes some buttons in some clever ways.

As the season comes to a close, in the Bigfat episode we find out what happens when Peter, Joe and Quagmire go on a trip to Canada. Peter goes missing for months and when they finally find him, he’s lost the ability to communicate like a ‘normal person.’ Total Recall is another ‘Rupert’ inspired episode where Stewie and Brian try to get the teddy bear back after a recall is done. Peter and friends try to save their favorite bar in Save The Clam while Peter takes up farming in Farmer Guy, but soon gives that up in favor of dealing meth. Road To Vegas sees Brian and Stewie clone themselves and head to Vegas where they have completely opposite experiences from one another and last but not least, No Country Club For Old Men gets the Griffin’s into a posh country club when Christ strikes up a romance with a girl who comes from the wealthiest family around. This doesn’t sit well with Carter, who winds up getting the boot.

It’s all pretty much non-stop insanity but hey, it wouldn’t be Family Guy if there weren’t a lot of guest voices, right? Right! Popping up throughout this collection are such luminaries as Elizabeth Banks, Ryan Reynolds, Sofía Vergara, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Biel, Drew Barrymore, Will Sasso, Emma Roberts, J.J. Abrams, Sandra Bernhard, Cheryl Tiegs, Anne Murray, Bill Maher, Sharon Osbourne and quite a few others. And we’d be remiss not to mention the mighty Robert Loggia shows up here too. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this set so long as you go in with an open mind and remember that pretty much every one from every walk of life is fair game.  This marks the second time a full season of the show has been released in one set (season 13 12 had the full season 11 on it). In prior years Fox, in its infinite wisdom, would release sets that had half of one season and half of another on it. It has really been a minor point because in terms of following the show, it is not like it ever has season long story arcs that need to be followed. You just have to have seen a prior episode to get a reference if they call back to something. But for those of us who do get the DVDs it has often meant paying the same price for a set with a partial season on it. So it is nice that they have come around to doing what they should have in the first place. It also makes for a pretty funny joke this season in one of the episodes.

As far as the show itself goes, it is pretty standard with what it has been doing the past few years. It can get repetitive with some of the gags (they do like vomit), but I do think they are still entertaining on a consistent enough basis to keep fans of the show entertained. This season has the controversial story line in the middle involving Brian (chances are everyone knows what it is and the cover of the DVD set basically gives it away) that definitely shook the show (and the fans) up. It also sees the return of Cleveland after the Cleveland Show’s cancellation. Like the show always has, it makes fun of pretty much any topic, and because the DVD is uncensored it replaces some of the tamer jokes from the broadcast version with harder edged versions. It is also worth noting that nothing gets bleeped out on the DVDs, so expect all the swearing to be in every episode.

 


For those who get the DVD set, as far as extras go, there are deleted scenes from every episode, a couple episodes showing the full animatics with the dialogue, and a short feature on the Brian storyline with show runners and Seth Green talking about the fan reaction. Pretty standard for what has been included before

This is really season 13, its the season featuring the Simpson/ Family Guy Crossover. The hour in Springfield started off in poignant, self-referential fashion, with Seth MacFarlane and co. recognizing that this was probably a “one time shot.” Cue the slew of Easter eggs and references for fans of The Simpsons, and the fan-service is appreciated for the most part. There are guest appearances from Apu (once in his natural habitat, and once as Stewie’s prisoner), and hilarious scenes with the likes of Cleveland and Quagmire meeting their Simpson counterparts.

The entire premise of this episode (an attempt to put the rumors of any Family Guy vs The Simpsons feud to rest) hinges on each show taking some low blows and wearing it’s respective heart on it’s sleeve. Whether it’s The Simpsons (or Duff Brewery’s) longevity, which invites criticism about it’s consistency, or Family Guy’s (and Pawtucket Brewery’s) questionable originality and knack for what may seem like “pale imitation,” this episode takes stabs at both parties involved. The argument begins in a bar at the start of the third act, and spirals out of control into an absurd, and probably overlong, classic chicken fight.Comic-Con-Family-Guy-The-SImpsons-Crossover-SG-21

Other highlights in the set include,

The 2000 Year Old Virgin where Jesus shocks peter by saying that he has never had sex. Determined to change this, Peter enlists the help of Cleveland, Joe and Quagmire so Jesus can lose his virginity for his 2000th birthday.

Stewie, Chris, & Brian’s Excellent Adventure where Stewie and Brian invite Chris on a journey through time to help him pass a test that is his only hope of finishing ninth grade, and the three end up stuck in 1912 aboard the Titanic.

and of course the Fight Irish episode where Peter claims that he could beat Liam Neeson in a fight, but his skills are put to the test when Neeson himself actually shows up. Meanwhile, Stewie is annoyed with Lois when she becomes a class mom and starts paying more attention to other children.

Another classic season with great jokes and great guest stars, The Simpson Guy being the biggest highlight now we can own it on dvd