Critical Hits & Misses #124

For today's musical hit, it's Flogging Molly's "If I Ever Leave This World Alive"

Today's critical rolls: Are you looking forward to any new and upcoming tv shows?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Book Review: In-Between Days Is A Powerful Reflection On Living With Cancer

When we talk about physical illness, we often think of it as a purely mechanic problem with mechanical solutions. If you have a cold, you take medicine and stay home until it clears up. You get your appendix removed, and after a few weeks rest you’re fine. Life goes on, and most of our illnesses are temporary. Cancer, however, is a whole other beast, even if it’s curable. And for Teva Harrison, there is no cure. For her, it isn’t just mechanical at all. It isn’t just what cancer is doing to her body, it is also what it does to her life plans, her mental health and her very identity.

In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer is a result of Harrison using her artistic abilities to come to terms with her illness. She reflects both on her life with cancer and how she now looks back on her life. It is a graphic novel in the sense that Hyperbole and a Half was a graphic novel; each piece of sequential art is followed with text that elaborates on her thoughts and experiences.

What particularly caught my attention was her struggles as a lifelong vegetarian/almost vegan and accepting drugs that were tested on animals. She writes, “Being honest with myself can be really uncomfortable. Cancer is revealing my deepest, darkest hypocrisies while it shows me just how selfish I am. In my desperation to live, I find that I can, indeed, accept some collateral damage in the war under my skin.” I am vegan myself and the community does grapple with this dilemma. The general consensus is, yes, take your meds! But while medication is essential, it still feels like a sting of hypocrisy.

And that I think is also why there’s a certain subset who believe that if you just take care of yourself, you won’t get cancer. Harrison’s cancer is genetic, there’s no question about that, but even she struggles with the idea that clean living could save her. She cuts out sugars and tries many different ‘natural’ remedies. While sick in the ER waiting room, a man tells her callously that she just needs to eat better. It reminds me of when vegan cookbook author and blogger Sarah Kramer got breast cancer. She blogged about her experiences and I remember a lot of comments like “Have you tried turmeric?” and occasionally some asshole would say something like “Vegans can’t get cancer, she must have been doing something wrong.” It’s a really unhealthy mindset in the vegan, whole foods, and healthy eating communities that I think come from a fear of lack of control. But the truth is, while healthy living may keep many illnesses at bay, several do not give a shit how many organic smoothies you down each morning and breast cancer is one of them.

Harrison’s thoughts drift from medical procedures, to her relationships, and how even little interactions are now affected by cancer. Even the question, “What do you do?” is now loaded, when you’re too sick to really work anymore. She also deals with the fact that she isn’t performing cancer the way others expect. She has hair, she kept her breasts, and she mostly looks okay. It’s an invisible war inside her that does not reflect to strangers, and it makes her feel like a cancer imposter.

This is a book that many people can relate to, and not just to those whose lives have been touched by cancer, but by anyone who has dealt with chronic illnesses. It is a powerful, emotional read you will not soon forget.

In-Between Days is published by House of Anansi. It is already available in Canada, and will become available in the US March 14, 2017. It is available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.

Riverdale S1 E1 Review: "Chapter One: On The River's Edge"

Warning: This review contains mentions of suicide and fictionalized rape.

In hindsight, seeing an Archie Comics adaptation on the CW isn't very surprising. From the very start, the show has been about romance and drama, the pursuer and the pursued. Archie likes Veronica, Betty likes Archie, Veronica likes Archie, Archie likes Betty, Jughead likes food, and it only gets more complicated from there. The mixture of programming on the network has changed, with content about a bevy of superheroes, musical romantic comedies, and even a show with a guy who thinks that the world is going to end. (No spoilers, I haven't finished the first episode of No Tomorrow yet.) Still, no matter if it's a paranormal show or something more contemporary, the key focus has been on purty teens doing not so purty things, and Riverdale stays true.

I'm not a fan of the student-teacher relationship plot. I admit, I dislike that trope in general, but I especially disagree with it in this case. Aging down Ms. Grundy additionally wouldn't have been as bad, but seemingly just to use it for making her get into an affair over the summer with Archie adds more levels to the uncomfortable nature. Topping it off, even if he did consent, it's still, technically, statutory rape. Given that the teens are possibly meant to be fifteen, I am very unnerved, and not in a good way.

Jughead's opening narration reminds me of Noah Foster's meta-monologues from MTV's Scream. In fact, a lot of his character rings some familiar bells. He's an outsider, looking back on everyone and examining mysterious goings-on. Cheryl, on the other hand, seems to have been ripped right from the comics. Aside from the small change of having grown up in Riverdale with the rest of the cast, she's just as spiteful as ever.

 Personally, I think it was either a suicide pact and Cheryl backed out of it due to fear, or she orchestrated Jason's murder by planning one and then killing him at the last minute. Or, if the implied subtext from Afterlife With Archie comes into play, they were going to run off together under assumed names, but she backed out. To be honest, the murder mystery is my main reason for watching the show. Despite having grown up on the comics and being in my very early twenties, I might not be the right demographic for the show.

I've never been a huge fan of teen drama and love triangles, unless they're fairly light-hearted. So far, the show seems like it's trying to be super-dramatic and dark just to distance itself from the source material. Other shows on the CW can pull off equally dramatic material without being so graphic. Despite my misgivings, I'm going to keep watching the show, due to reading an article saying that the given episodes, screened copies going up to number four, got better.

Riverdale airs on Thursdays on the CW. You can also watch select episodes on the CW website and app.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #123

For today's musical hit, it's an oldie but goodie:

Today's critical rolls: Did you do anything awesome this past weekend?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #122

For today's musical hit, and because it's relevant, we have Dead Kennedys "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"

Today's critical rolls: what were your favorite signs at the various protests last weekend?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Archie #16 Review: Thanks To Dilton, 'Black Mirror' Is A Reality.

This month's issue of Archie takes the focus off of Archie in favor of my favorite supporting character, Dilton Doiley. In monster movie terms, Dilton would be Riverdale's mad scientist, always concocting bizarre experiments and creating wacky gadgets to improve life. Results vary, especially if the story involves Archie's disastrous 'help.' He's also best friends with Moose Mason. It's an unlikely friendship, but a solid one. In the original canon and the "New Riverdale' universe, they help each other out.

Moose used Intimidation. Reggie ran away!
I hope this element carries over to the Riverdale tv show. Just because the adaptation is reportedly going to be darker, that doesn't mean that it can't have moments of friendship. In any case, the story focuses on Dilton's new invention. He creates an app that can be used to rate anything, but Reggie steals it and immediately begins abusing it. How? With cyberbullying, of course! Over the course of the day, he manages to insult everyone in town, driving some students to tears and offending others. One small digression: Nancy Woods is featured in the montage, leading me to hope that Chuck Clayton, her boyfriend, might return.

Dilton goes throughout his day, oblivious to the techno-terror, until a friend warns him about it after school. At once, he rushes home, knowing that Reggie had something to do with this scene. I love the art in this issue, especially in this scene. Dilton's fears of failure quite literally looming over him looks wonderful, especially in the rain. It helps to set the mood. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I also think that it works as a visual representation of what you go through during a bout of stress.

When Dilton recruits Moose to help him get his servers back from Reggie, the art is equally amazing.  The entire scene is evocative of a horror movie, with Moose silently glaring at Reggie, not leaving until he helps his buddy out. It's really great. Joe Eisma did a fantastic job.

Picture this, Archie Horror division: A slasher one-shot starring Moose as the killer.
Archie #16 is an exceptionally good installment of the series, with science and a refreshing change of pace. It is written by Mark Waid and Lori Matsumoto, drawn by Joe Eisma, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Andre Syzmanowicz. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #121

For today's musical hit, Woody Guthrie's "All You Fascists Bound To Lose" seems particularly relevant these days.

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

SNL Scraps: Baldwin To Host, Writer Suspended

Following up on Saturday's revelation that Kristen Stewart and Alessia Cara would be headlining February 4th's episodes as the respective host and musical guest, the stars for next week's episode have been announced. Seemingly taking a cue from having Larry David host last season after his guest-starring stint as Bernie Sanders, Alec Baldwin will be outright hosting the show. It's safe to say that he'll be doing more than just playing Donald Trump in the Valentine's episode. This is also notable because he will once again become the most frequent host in SNL history with seventeen shows, beating out Steve Martin. In previous episodes, the two have had a friendly rivalry and made cameos in each other's episodes. Ed Sheeran will be the musical guest.

In sadder news, writer Katie Rich has been temporarily suspended after making a controversial tweet about Donald Trump's son, Barron Trump. When the credits rolled on last week's episode, her name did not appear in the customary list. She has since made an apology tweet, which can be read here. In an interesting twist, Dan Harmon has offered her a job.

Finally, this isn't technically news about the show, but comedy news site Splitsider posted a fascinating article arguing the case for more stand-up comedians hosting the show. I have to agree with them, that would be a step up in quality.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #10: Introducing Your New Group Halloween Costume, The Poole Boys!

(Disclaimer: Critical Writ is not responsible for any colds caught from actually doing this on Halloween. Stay safe and warm next October.)

Oh, you thought it was just a joke. This isn't really going to happen in the comic, it's simply a fun little visual for the cover. After all, a lot of comic covers exaggerate. It's a time-honored tradition. No, you were wrong. Behold, the newest addition to Team Gwenpool, THE POOLE BOYS!

This is the weirdest out-of-context picture from the entire series so far.

Yes, it's surreal, bizarre, and one of the funniest visual gags in the comic's run. LOOK AT IT!

This summer, from Marvel Studios...

Okay, okay, I'm sorry. I just had to share the sheer awesomeness of seeing a legion of nameless henchmen, all dressed up as Gwenpool, fighting alien squids. Moments like this make reading comics worth it. You turn the page and a fountain of weirdness explodes. In any case, the Poole Boys are here to assist Gwenpool in her mission to stop the alien squids and Victor Doonan.

Surprisingly, there's not as much collateral damage as you might think, despite the presence of a killer robot, giant spaceships, and aliens. Unfortunately, while the battle has won, Gwen's team fractured, with only Ronnie staying behind to assign Gwen jobs. No one died, but her teammates decided to take a little break. Once again, the forces of reality intervened, making it necessary for them to lie low and avoid prison. 

It's a heartbreaking scene. You can see the hurt in Gwenpool's eyes as they all walk away. All of this promises more reckless mayhem, as Gwen declares that she's going to take "the most insane, self-destructive, #$@%# stupid, dangerous jobs you've got!" I don't see how this can end without a serious injury.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #10 is a fantastic conclusion to the arc. The writing is tight and the artistry is in fine form. The comic is written by Christopher Hastings, drawn by Gurihiru, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #120

For today's musical hit, we have The World/Inferno Friendship Society:

Today's critical rolls: Are you looking forward to Riverdale? What other comic books would you like to see adapted to the small (or big) screen?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Borrowing Problems From The Future - The Flash S3E10

The Flash came back last night from its midseason break, and set the stage for the rest of the season in the process with an unusual kind of story set-up, but one, I think, that works quite well. Overall, the writing and acting was strong in this episode, and for the first time since season 2, I am actually pretty excited about The Flash... with some caveats.

Read on below the fold to find out what's in store for the future... (spoilers to follow)

When last we left our stalwart speedster, he had gotten knocked so hard that he ended up 4 months into the future, and bore witness to Savitar murdering Iris. A distraught Barry has avoided telling anyone about it, instead attempting to enjoy every waking moment with Iris, while still trying to figure out on his own how to change the future. Desperate for advice, he even asks HR Wells his writer's opinion on whether the future is set in stone, to which HR tells him that he felt that a man trying to avoid his future ends up running headlong into it anyway (a very Oedipal way of thinking of things, to be sure).

Having seen the future, Barry has a bad moment when the freak-of-the-week turns out to be Plunder, a silly pirate-looking baddie who Barry saw on the news in the future. Desperate to change the future, Barry botches capturing Plunder, but then Kid Flash, who is trying to make a name for himself, ends up catching the guy. Barry freaks out and reams poor Kid Flash for being reckless, and everyone, even Joe and Iris, are like "yo, chill out and lay off of Wally, will you?"

Arr matey, I be a shitty DC villain, I be!

Thankfully, this whole secret keeping doesn't last for very long, unlike in previous seasons of any show in the Arrowverse. Besides, it's not like Iris hasn't noticed Barry's been acting weird. So he finally decides to come clean to her.

Sidenote: the crimson jumpsuit she's wearing in this scene is freaking stellar, and I am jealous that she can rock something like that.

Photo Credit: This awesome Flash Fashion blog I just discovered that tells you where to buy the clothing you see on the show! 

Anyway, after Barry tells Iris she's going to be brutally murdered by Savitar in four months, she cries a little at the prospect of her shortened lifespan, but then she takes it like a boss and gets down to business. Barry says he will stop at nothing to change the future, and Iris says they need help to deal with it, so they need to tell the team... except for Joe, because she is worried her father will freak out and run headlong into danger against Savitar himself, to try to save her life.

Let's take a moment to discuss Iris. I have eviscerated this show since last season, at least, and really the Arrowverse in general, for its treatment of women characters. This is, after all, a feminist blog, so this is of interest to us here at the Writ. And the writers of The Flash seem to struggle with Iris West in particular. They seem to have found a good place for Caitlyn, finally (although rumor has it that Robbie Amell, who played her fiance, is coming back this season, so I cringe at what that's going to do to Caitlyn). But Iris has been relegated entirely to the role of team cheerleader and counselor, and that's it. Her journalist career seems to simply have vanished, and she does nothing in the show that isn't somehow revolving around Barry's feelings.

So I am both pleased and frightened by the fact that the second half of the season seems to be revolving around her. Maybe, finally, she can be the badass character that I know her to be, and that Candice Patton can absolutely portray. But I'm not happy that the end result may be her death, although I swear, if they kill the only black female character on the show, I am done with The Flash. *shakes fist at writers* You hear me? DONE. Also, I'm really just sick of Barry having to lose someone important in every freaking season to "keep him motivated" or whatever. Also, threatening the hero's love interest is a shitty trope that probably needs to die as viciously as Iris does in the future.

But even if she doesn't die, there's the danger that Iris won't be an active participant in her own rescue, but rather that she will fall into the trap of the superhero's girlfriend that is more object than person. You know the type: Lois Lane always getting into trouble so that Superman has to rescue her, every Batman girlfriend in all the movies, and every iteration of Iris West ever in the comic books needing to be rescued by The Flash. I am heartened by her boss "let's do this" response to finding out her death is impending, but I hope she maintains her strength and actually does something with it. And I also hope that the show remembers to focus on her at least some of the time, and show the effect on her life of knowing she might be dead in four months. That kind of knowledge can really change the way someone lives their life. Knowing they are going to die soon, many people will stop caring about getting into dangerous situations (so like, maybe she ought to become a more aggressive reporter and get into the faces of meta baddies more often), or will strive to make a mark on the world by doing more charity work, or will want to travel and do all the things they always wanted to do but suddenly have very little time to do.

The danger here is that Iris remains the same character despite this knowledge, when really... this plot has all the trappings of developing her character in a way they have never done before on this show. Flash writers, I implore you: don't waste this beautiful opportunity.

Anyway, when Barry and Iris tell the team about the future, the team resolves to change it. Barry and Cisco vibe to the future so that they can take a look at the news reel Barry had a glimpse of (the same one where he saw Plunder), and so the team now has an idea of all the things in the next four months they can fiddle with. Barry also noted during the vibing that unlike his previous trip to the future, this time when Savitar kills Iris, HR is up on a nearby rooftop with a rifle, which is definitely a change that happened because Barry told the team about the future. So it is possible to change the future, then.

Team Flash has a Vibe machine, which is pretty cool!
With this, the episode lays the groundwork for what we'll see the rest of the season. We know that Music Meister is involved (and actually, just this week, the actor cast as Music Meister for the Supergirl/Flash crossover sing-along episode was announced), we know that Killer Frost is going to make another appearance (which coincides with Caitlyn having trouble with her anti-meta bracelets in this episode), and we know that Gorilla Grodd will be back. There were several other major and minor plot points mentioned, including that the STAR Labs Museum (which has a terrible opening in this episode that no one showed up to) closes down in four months as well, so Cisco decides to help keep it open as one of the changes to the future (pretty genius, too: he calls local schools and offers them discount tickets to get kids excited about science and maybe bring their parents in later, too. Savvy business sense, Ramon!)

More sideplot stuff:

  • Caitlyn seeks Julian's help in curing her meta state, and invites him to join Team Flash because she knows he's lonely and trying to deal with the fact that he was a villain's puppet all by himself. Ultimately, despite initial misgivings (and him being a total dick at first), Team Flash welcomes Julian into the fold. 

  • Wally, after being torn down by Barry for no reason at all, accepts Barry's apology and explanation for being a douche. Kid Flash comes into his own in this episode, obviously enjoying his super powers and finally getting a fan following after he captures Plunder. Although Plunder is seriously a D-class goofy villain, and Wally deserves way better, so hopefully he gets better action and more of a challenge later. Still, such a pleasure to watch Wally (and Keiynan Lonsdale by extension, who is clearly loving his job) having a blast with his powers. 

  • We get a glimpse of a bounty hunter who is after HR Wells, as she pops into this earth looking for him. So I'm guessing we're in for some nasty business next week. This bounty hunter is actually supposed to be Cynthia Reynolds, aka Gypsy, and please goddess don't let them call her Gypsy. It's nice to see Sleepy Hollow's Jessica Camacho is in the role! 

Anyway, after setting up the rest of the season for us, I'm both excited and a bit apprehensive about what's coming.

What did you think of The Flash's return? Sound off in the comments below!

Deadpool The Duck #2 Review: Deadpool The Duck Tales, Woo Hoo?

Deadpool The Duck #2 continues the adventures of the freshly combined Deadpool and Howard The Duck. Naturally, given Deadpool's rather erratic behavior and Howard's pessimistic personality, they don't agree on a lot. Also, to Howard's frustration, Deadpool is the one in charge of controlling their body. If Howard comes out of this adventure with at least one unbroken limb, then I'll be shocked.

I really like the way that Deadpool The Duck is portrayed. It reminds me of the days when Rick Jones and Mar-Vell were the shared hero Captain Mar-Vell, with one hero on earth while the other is in the Negative Zone. They could still speak to each other, probably leading to at least one weird off-panel moment where someone mistook Rick for a ghost whisperer. I hope that Howard takes control for a bit in the future, mostly for some more variety. In fact, the similarity is even remarked upon in the comic.

Say, Howard, are you okay? You seem a little...NEGATIVE. ...No need to fire me, I'll see myself out. That was bad and I should feel bad.

On the plus side, the comic is very funny. It almost perfectly meshes with the standard tone for the two characters. Jacopo Camagini, the artist, has a great knack for the necessary goofy facial expressions in reaction to a talking duck assassin. Howard looks grumpy for most of the time, the regular humans just seem weirded out, and Deadpool just has a bemused grin on his face. The coloring, done by Israel Silva, is also wonderful.

Combined, the two factors elevate the story even more, adding in background gags and putting more depth into the writing. In fact, there is one panel in the issue that might just win the award for my favorite standalone joke in the series. The way that the panel is drawn to every so slightly have Deadpool tip out of it while he snarks to the reader is perfect. Every time I look at it, I read it in a Daffy Duck voice.

"You better not start doing a Duck Amuck kinda situation here, Marvel! Save it for Slapstick!"
On the negative, some of Deadpool's smaller moments in the issue aren't very funny. They just feel odd for the sake of being odd or simply gross. One example would be a running joke involving Deadpool vomiting. I just don't find that kind of humor funny. In the right situation, it could make me laugh, but it just feels overplayed here.

Deadpool The Duck #2 is written by Stuart Moore, drawn by Jacopo Camagini, colored by Israel Silva, and lettered by VC's Joe Sabino. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #119

For today's musical hit, we have Flogging Molly's "Rise Up."

Today's critical rolls: Did you protest over the weekend in DC or even your home city? Tell us how you spent inaugural weekend saying no to Donny!

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Saturday Night Live S24 E12- Aziz Ansari, Big Sean: The Post-Inauguration Episode Delivers A Voice Of Reason

Cold Opening: I'm pretty sure that this is the first time that Beck Bennett earned a mostly solo cold opening. To his credit, he did a wonderful job, portraying Putin with the perfect amount of sliminess. I also appreciate seeing Kate's Olya character outside of Weekend Update, especially when she subtly referenced the march on Washington. Putin's line about it also earned massive applause from the audience, justifiably so. I'm impressed that they managed to mention it with less than a day of prep time, considering that they have to do script readings and multiple rehearsals.

Monologue: Can we just get Aziz to do every monologue?! I just love his style of stand-up comedy. He sounds so earnest and happy. This is a solid nine minutes of him delivering wonderful commentary on the world while cracking quality jokes. He's awesome on Parks And Recreation and Master Of None but this shows me that I need to start looking up his stand-up routines. He wins the award for the best monologue of the season with a genuine, heartfelt, and hilarious speech that shows that there is still good in the world.

Beat The Bookworm: Holy forking shirt, this sketch was positively made for me. I love books. Heck, I'm basically the Bookworm, only not as mean. Still, I would have won at the nineties pop culture round. Ironically, I'm a huge bookworm and fairly confident in my ability to answer all of those questions. On another note, if I could recreate the set for my bedroom, I would. It looks glorious, filled with a comfy armchair and a huge amount of books. Finally. I wish the sketch was longer, but I'm not sure if they could have done that without sacrificing the joke. You can watch it here.

La La Land Interrogation: Irrationally, part of me wanted to mute the sketch so the movie wasn't ruined for me. Eventually. I'll see the movie. However, I'm glad that I didn't foolishly do that. Along with a weird duo of cinema-obsessed and potentially racist cops, it also featured some excellent social commentary.

Kellyanne Conway: Finally, we're getting more jokes about Kelly other than being grossed out by Trump, but continuing to help him. The Chicago parody portrays her as being obsessed with the nature of celebrities, desperately wanting to be one. And what better way to do that than help Trump with his horrible plans? The production values in the prerecorded piece remind me of a typical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend musical number, with high production values and songs suddenly appearing in a seemingly mundane situation.

Attorney Ad: I saw it coming, with Aziz's character being annoyed about not getting as much money as the rest of the charactes. Even so, the disproportionate nature of his accident and the output compared to the other clients getting exorbitant fees just for fairly unimportant court cases. The lawyers made it even funnier, mostly thanks to Bobby Moynihan. He was in fine form, with his character's incredible stupidity. You can watch it here.

Big Sean Performance #1- "Bounce Back": I enjoyed it. You can watch it here.

Weekend Update: Wise words from Michael Che tonight, "Believing in equality just means you're not a dick." Leslie Jones had a remarkable piece on Hidden Figures. Sure, it wasn't really a review of the movie so much as a commentary on the nature of technology throughout history, racism, and whitewashing. It's definitely worth your time. The piece on the 'friend one' is not as beneficial, but I did appreciate that it was in a mock satellite piece. It adds more realism to the parody news show set. I know that they don't have unlimited time for the segment, so I'll stick to The Daily Show for that, but it made for a refreshing change. You can watch it herehere, here, and down below.

Bedroom: I'm glad to see more of Melissa on the show. Based on this sketch, we need more of her in everything. She's incredibly funny. Her character's combination of literalness and outright cruelty made me burst out laughing. I'm also happy to see one of her classic impressions making it onto the show. You can watch it here.

Five Stars: This is no mere digital short, it's a short film. In just a few seconds, it sets up the characters and motivations. All of the jokes land, we genuinely feel for the characters, and it's not just a one-note premise. It genuinely has depth. We feel for the characters and want them to succeed. "Five Stars" feels cinematic and it's one of the best shorts in recent history.

Pizza Town: This is going to get stuck in my head. It's hard for SNL to go wrong with having their cast members play robots, and this is no exception. This season in particular has had some well-produced robotic comedy sketches. When you take an amusing Chuck E. Cheese parody and add a tense crime scene, it produces comedy magic. You can watch it here.

Big Sean Performance #2- "Sunday Morning Jetpack": That's one of the best names for a song that I've ever heard. You can watch it here.

To Sir With Love: That was beautiful. Sasheer Zamata and Cecily Strong are great singers. Just like the rest of us, they will miss Barack Obama. You can watch it here.

Final Thoughts: Aziz Ansari demonstrated why he's such a excellent person tonight with a wide array of characters and a heaping dose of social justice. He didn't shy away from addressing the inauguration and getting personal in the monologue, and I respect him for that. Nothing felt staged or manufactured. He was simply himself and the audience knew that. The show itself was superb. With only the Weekend Update piece on the friend zone being awkward, everything else soared. When I eventually make my list of the top episodes and sketches of the season, this will be near, if not at, the top.

Next Time: Prepare for a seemingly endless parade of Twilight jokes, Kristen Stewart will be hosting the show when it returns on February 4th. Alessia Cara will be the musical guest. I've never heard of her, but I wish her the best of luck! It's a tough gig.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

U.S.Avengers #2 Review: Yarr, Beware The Golden Skull, Matey!

U.S.Avengers #2 has already gotten past the minor rough patch in the first issue. This one has more of an explanation for why the Captain American of 20XX and the Golden Skull are in town and it's amazing. I'm a huge fan of alternate universe-type stories where all of the normal Marvel characters have unique twists to them, like, say, the Hulk being in the Nova Corps or Spider-Ham. Granted, I don't know if the first example ever happened, but it would be cool if it did. Anyway, my point is that we get to experience all of the coolness of seeing those kinds of characters, but they're interacting with the normal Earth-616 characters. It's precisely why Secret Wars had some of the best tie-ins that I've ever read.

In this case, we have the daughter of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as Captain America and the Golden Skull just happens to be some kind of pirate. Yes, an actual pirate. He doesn't have a parrot, but I wouldn't be surprised if one popped up somewhere in the future. As Captain America explains, part of his reign came about after Zero Day, Thanos's massacre of almost all of the superheroes on Earth. In the wake of rebuilding the world, the Golden Skull started his campaign of looting and greed. Danielle, being a Captain America, is naturally his arch-nemesis.

The gun was actually going to shoot out a bouquet for Jack's reward, but Captain America ruined it. Darn you, you patriotic pest!
The comic only gets better from there, with a classic 'infiltrate the casino dressed in fancy clothes' spy scenario. The owner of the casino happens to be Brice Wyne, who I completely sure doesn't go around dressed up as some kind of winged creature of the night when no one's looking. It's this sense of fun and whimsy that makes Al Ewing one of the best comic writers out there. He knows how to inject the perfect amount of jokes into a story. I don't know what will happen next in "$kullocracy", but I'm sure that it will be wonderful.

U.S.Avengers #2 is written by Al Ewing, drawn by Paco Medina, inked by Juan Vlaco, colored by Jesus Aburtov, and lettered by VC's Joe Caramagna. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #118

  • Kate Gray explores how good are video games when they seem to ignore you, using as an example the recently released Astroneer and its seemingly terrible tutorial. Just be warned: as the game doesn’t really have a plot, the article doesn’t contain spoilers in the traditional sense - but it provides examples that reveal a fair bit of the gameplay, so keep that in mind if you want to go into Astroneer blind.

  • Get out your babka and find a classic Superman comic to peruse, legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld is coming to Netflix! No, not a Seinfeld remake, but brand new episodes of his web series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, along with two new stand-up specials. To sweeten the deal, he’ll also be helping to develop more content. The Hollywood Reporter has the full scoop. 

For today's musical hit, here is Bonobo's "Kerala"

Today's critical rolls: what are some of your favorite Indie video games?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S2, E10: "Will Scarsdale Like Josh's Shayna Punim?"

Heck yeah, Jewish representation! I haven't made it a secret that one of the most positive aspects of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the stellar amount of representation for Judaism. In fact, I even wrote a whole article on it! Not only do we have a main character who is explicitly Jewish, but references to Judaic culture are thrown in constantly. The first season even had an entire song just dedicated to it!

So, you might ask, how can the show amp it up with more cultural aspects of Rebecca's Jewish heritage? Pack your bags, it's time for a Bar Mitzvah! Rebecca and Josh, deliriously in love with their re-re-rekindled relationship, are headed to Rebecca's mom's house to attend her cousin's Bar Mitzvah. Let me just say, I love that the background music for Mrs. Bunch's house is her wonderful "Where's The Bathroom?" song from the first season. Their romance, by the way, is exemplified in an eighties disco song, showing that they think nothing at all can go wrong when they have love.

To Rebecca's frustration, it turns out that Naomi and Josh bond quite nicely. Along with a tinge of jealousy at his cheerfulness when she had such a bad time growing up, she's also confused that he's managing to gel with them in the first place. As she puts it, the East Coast, New York specifically, is filled with gloom and misery while the West Coast is a place for fun. As a demonstration, the hora turns into a deceptively cheerful song about suffering.

The subplot revolves around Darryl's insecurity about no longer being the boss. Nathaniel keeps undercutting what little is left of his authority. When Nathaniel takes away Darryl's candy stash, saying that it would just make the office even less productive, he organizes an all-out revolution. The employees come together to all shove candy inside Nathaniel's health food cupboard, but it just comes off as an irritating prank than a show of togetherness. He just calls them 'children' and tells them to get back to work. Thankfully, we finally get some character development for him and it actually some well-foreshadowed humanization.

The episode ends on a wonderful note for the future of the show. It's fortituous that it just happened to get renewed recently. While it is frustrating, that Rebecca didn't end up having a breakthrough during her psychologist appointment, it bodes well for the rest of the show's plot. I have a feeling that the next few episodes are going to be filled with some fascinating character moments. Who knows, maybe Nathaniel will start being a little nicer to the rest of the office.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Jughead #12 Review: That's Why Slytherins All Sing, Mantle Is Our King

In Jughead #12, Reggie becomes the boss of everyone in the gang after beating them all in a video game competition. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with any of them, especially Jughead. He prides himself on being brilliant at video games. Still, Reggie won, so they have to find a way to get out of it somehow.
Ewww, he's going to get Reggie germs all over it!
His first act is to get everyone to carry him around on a throne. Everywhere. For a whole day. Yup, that's going to stink. Fortunately, Veronica has a secret weapon for thwarting at least that portion of Reggie's plan. She has been sponsoring Riverdale's men's bodybuilding club, possibly for this very eventuality, and they are only too happy to comply. Naturally, Jughead wants to take a picture of it for giggles, but Reggie disagrees. Surprisingly, Betty is on his side, asking how Jughead would feel if a picture was taken of him without his consent.

Out of frustration, Jughead challenges Reggie to another video game contest, this time to see who the supreme winner of all time would be, with everyone challenging Reggie. One thing leads to another, and Reggie wins again, making him their boss for an entire month. Nice going, Jughead. Surprisingly, his first decree isn't anything necessarily cruel, just fuel for his ever-hungry ego. Surprisingly, Reggie does look slightly embarrassed as he makes his first decree under the new reign. They'll form a band.

I love that Ryan North and Derek Charm keep finding excuses to work in the original Archie drawing style.
Jughead #12 is a great issue, promising to be the start to an interesting new story arc. It could use a little more Jughead, but seeing everyone interact wasn't bad. The comic is written by Ryan North and drawn by Derek Charm. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #117

There's a thing happening today in the US which would normally be important and big news, but we're completely ignoring, and we hope you will too.

For today's musical hit, Gorillaz came out with an anti-Trump song, which seems appropriate for today. Here is "Hallelujah Money"

Today's critical rolls: Since Hollywood is in the business of making remakes of stuff no one asks for (like White Men Can't Jump), let's toss some ideas their way! What remakes (old shows, movies, etc) should Hollywood make next?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S2, E8-9: "Who Is Josh's Soup Fairy?" and "When Do I Get To Spend Time With Josh?"

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S2, E8: "Who Is Josh's Soup Fairy?"

Paula's been having a rough time of it over this season. She's had a tough time with finding a balance between her home life and new career, had a nasty fight with Rebecca, and tensions with her husband are worse than early-season one levels of frosty. They are currently separated, with him living somewhere else. Not only has she been growing closer to Sunil, but it's been recently revealed that he cheated on her with one of her coworkers. So, Rebecca tries to help her out by letting her have a weekend off while she takes care of Tommy. Yeah, this isn't going to go well, considering that most of Rebecca's knowledge of being a mom comes from a podcast.

Wacky misadventures ensue, with Rebecca trying to teach Tommy about feminism and the patriarchy, but ironically, getting distracted by Josh at every turn. A trip to the mall? She hands him a load of cash and subtly asks Josh about Anna. A talk back at home about why he should not buy dirty magazines with said money? She sees an Instagram post by Josh thanking Anna for a big bowl of delicious chicken soup. Unbeknownst to him, Rebecca actually sent him that soup. She goes over to a night club to tell him that, taking Tommy with her. Right, because that's the responsible thing to do. Actually, considering the alternative, it probably is. Keep Tommy away from the seedier parts of the Internet, please.

Back with Josh, he is delighted when Anna makes a surprise visit to the club to see his new business opportunity. Unfortunately, she immediately becomes disgusted with him and breaks up with him after seeing him model teen clothing on a runway. I'm not sure if this means that her character will leave the show, but it's disappointing. I wish that there was more time to fully flesh out her character. This doesn't seem like the best ending for her arc.

Still, Josh does end up realizing that Rebecca sent him the soup in a weird pop song, titled "Duh." Overall, the episode demonstrated a large amount of character growth on Rebecca's part and a genuinely heartfelt ending. I hope that the second part of this week's double-feature will be as good.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S2, E9: "When Do I Get To Spend Time With Josh?"

When the episode begins, it seems like everything is finally coming together for Rebecca. She and Paula have made up and she's having a delightful time with Josh. There's a delightful scene with the happy couple going across West Covina, featuring background music from the eponymous song and several references to it. For example, soft pretzels! Mmmm, pretzels. However, when Darryl sells part of the company to a new person, reality sets in. They will actually have to work, and some people at the company will be fired to maintain profits. Maya, Weird Karen, George, Paula, and Tim all have a magnificent song about their new boss.

Seriously, it's filled with a bushel of meta jokes, making fun of the show's ratings, the characters, and the potential reaction from the viewers at having a mysterious new character to deal with. As it turns out, this new character, Nathaniel Plimpton III, is an incredible jerk. Right off the bat, he establishes himself by insulting several workers, potentially making a racist comment against Josh, callously playing mental games with Rebecca regarding her relationship with Josh, and firing poor George. He even undercuts Darryl's authority by going behind his back and becoming the majority shareholder, effectively becoming the new boss. George, for his trouble, gets a dramatic song, but it's interrupted by a commercial break.

The entire episode is a thrilling tale of true friendship and the lengths that Rebecca will go to help her coworkers. Every joke works, every member of the cast absolutely nails it, and the ending scene has one of the creepiest Patton Oswalt characters that I've ever seen.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S2 E7: "Who's The Cool Girl Josh Is Dating?"

This episode felt like a throwback to the first season, but with a twist. It definitely exemplified the character development that everyone has gone through. The main chunk of the episode focuses on Rebecca and Valencia cyber-stalking Anna, Josh's new girlfriend, on her social media accounts. The song during this piece, "Research Me Obsessively", was pretty good. It took the form of Alice, singing to them on her various social media accounts.

As can be expected, they egg each other on and end up outright stalking her place of work, convinced that she's a drug dealer. This leads to accidentally running over her cat, and eventually breaking into her office to delete the footage. Don't worry, the cat survived and she didn't end up being a drug dealer. I could see this bizarre chain of events happening in the first season, but instead of Rebecca and Valencia teaming up, it would just be Rebecca spying on Valencia. It truly is fascinating to see how they are now friends and the new dynamics it gives the show. It keeps it fresh and creates cool new character pairings.

Speaking of character pairings, Paula and Rebecca are still on the outs. The end of the episode featured a magnificent song describing how they feel about the fight. Both of them want to be friends again, but are too stubborn to be the first one to apologize. Granted, both of them have good reasons for this line of reasoning, but they also have bad ones. Also in that realm, I like that out of the Rebecca-Valencia plot, Rebecca is somehow the voice of reason. Valencia has a disturbing lack of ethics that leads to several acts of thievery.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Saturday Night Live S42 E11- Felicity Jones, Sturgill Simpson: A Slow Episode At Least Has Some Interesting Feminism Sketches

Before the show started, an interesting behind the scenes clip was uploaded to the YouTube channel. It's a cool 360-degrees look at the in-house band during the dress rehearsal.

Cold Opening: This cold openings will be the only times that we'll ever hear people legitimately cheering for Donald Trump. As can be expected, the writers had a ball inserting as many childish pee-related puns into the cold opening as possible. Some of them weren't very funny, but I have to admit, the more immature they got, the more I laughed. My favorite was Trump repeating, "You're in, you're in, you're in!" over and over. Just read it out loud if you don't get the joke.

Monologue: I do wish that it had more of a tribute to Carrie Fisher, but NBC did re air one of the times she hosted the show in its entirety before this one. I think this also works because Tina Fey is a huge Star Wars fan herself, working many references to it into 30 Rock. From a comedic standpoint, I enjoyed the self-mockery in her cameo. It's almost always funny when the show makes fun of itself.

Beard Hunk: Really, the sketch was just an excuse for different goofy characters, like any reality show. It did get funnier as it went on, mostly because of the rapid-fire jokes that added more bizarre depth to the characters. Still, the repetitive lines did not get funnier and the ending was weak.

Shondra & Malik: This one of those times where it takes a long time for the joke to land, but once it does, it gets funnier. The sketch starts off as some kind of gritty drama, but car trouble leads to a seemingly never-ending punchline. I usually like those kinds of pieces, but this one felt really long. The ending gag is good, but it doesn't quite make up for it.

Theatre Donor: At this point, I'll take any excuse that I can get for more awesome physical comedy from Beck Bennett. His suspiciously Vladimir Putin-like old man character made me laugh, especially when he flailed around, trying to get away from the nurse. You can watch it here.

The Princess And The Curse: Kate McKinnon makes a great Disney villain. The premise is a basic princess story with a baby who gets cursed. Years later, as she speaks with the prince, she alludes to a horrific curse that befalls her every night. The prince professes his love and says that he will never leave her. She reveals that her curse is simply to gain fifteen pounds every night, much to his disgust. It makes for some excellent social commentary on how we perceive women's bodies in society. You can watch it here.

Susan B Anthony House Tour: Okay, in addition to a Disney villain, we need Kate McKinnon to star in a Susan B. Anthony biopic. It's amusing seeing how quickly the women go from gushing over Susan to being condescending and outright disrespecting her. However, I feel that it would have been funnier if the final line, showing that Susan B. Anthony was against abortion, was the premise of the entire sketch. It would be a unique way to compare and contrast the differences between feminism then and feminism now. You can watch it here.

Sturgill Simpson Performance #1- "Keep It Between The Lines": I liked the jazzy feel to the opening. You can watch it here.

Weekend Update: Colin and Michael were pretty funny. The first guest bit, a new segment called "First impressions” starring Pete Davidson- felt like a late night talk show bit. In tone and style, it felt closest to Seth Meyer’s “Ya Burnt” piece, a fast stand-up roast piece. The second guest appearance, focusing more on Beck Bennett’s aspiring music career, was okay. You can watch it here, here, here, and down below.

Movie Interview: There was an amusing contrast between the writers and actors talking about how Hollywood can combat Trump. They discuss how progressive they tried to be in their film, but every single thing that we end up hearing simply sounds like a trashy, juvenile, offensive film. I can best describe it by comparing it to what the Transformers franchise will be like in ten years. You can watch it here.
Sturgill Simpson Performance #2- "Call To Arms": Again, I liked the jazzy tone. You can watch it here.

Corporate Retreat: The main characters remind me of Kristen Wiig’s “Surprise” character, mostly in their tone and clothing style. That being said, I didn’t really like the sketch. It just wasn’t my kind of humor. If that makes me uptight, as was said in the sketch, then okay. Comedy is subjective. You can watch it here.

Overall Thoughts: I wish that it had more of Sasheer Zamata and Bobby Moynihan. They only had a few appearances. Overall, it was a fun return after a brief hiatus, but not the best way to start 2017. Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of Star Wars-related content. It was funny, but several sketches just felt slow. I’m hoping that Aziz Anisari’s episode will be more fast-paced next week.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.