TV Binge: The Chamber of Secrets Escape 密室逃脱:暗夜古宅 (Season 1, 2018)

Moving away from movies for today, we’re taking a look at a Chinese TV game show called The Chamber of Secrets Escape.

Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxeBkIJb4qE&list=PLUM8x224JrX9wa0S9MatA4vQ-6v8Qm_x6&index=10

The Chamber of Secrets Escape (Season 1, 2018)

the chamber of secrets escape

Host: Ma Ke

Cast/Guests: Danson Tang, You Ming Huang, Yi Xuan Zhou, Zhi Yuan Xia, Xi Yue Cao, Xiao Yu Lu, Wen Han Li, Mei Ren Wang, Han Yu Gao, Amelie Xu, Bo Wen Wang

This is an ancient style chamber escaping reality show which the celebrity guests are to use their wits to pass each checkpoint and also whether they show good teamwork or working together against the opposing team. – My Drama List

***I’m going to say sorry in advance that the show is only in Chinese. I have the urge to use the Youtube translate thing and do it but I currently don’t have the time to commit to that yet. ***

With a total of 10 episodes, this season is a quick and fast one to go through. The Chamber of Secrets Escape : The Dark Night is all about pitching a group of people into different elaborately built puzzles with different back stories and different goals and twists in the escape room game. The eliminated participants have to go run this corridor of darkness which literally is a 100 metre corridor where you are being chased by a dog. Its a race between getting to the ladder at the end to salvation. The winners of the show have a donation made in their names to a pre-selected school in the country.

The Chamber of Secrets Escape

The host himself is Ma Ke who does a nice sinister feeling as he welcomes the participants and leads them on the journey as a behind the scenes sort of puppet master. I think that was the feeling this started as and even in the first or second episode, it felt that way on how the game set the tone of how it was more about the psychological aspect of it as it talks about how when people are faced with dangerous situation how their human nature would react. Granted these are actors and celebrities, I do wonder whether there is some aspect of it staged beforehand and the environments are controlled as well but they do give them leeway to be fairly exciting. Its one of the reasons that makes this so much fun to dive into.

The Chamber of Secrets Escape

The puzzles here can be fairly hard to put together. At the same time, the show has a definite focus on the game show human nature and opposing and teamwork and trust emphasis that the viewers only get glimpses of the puzzles so it isn’t one to sit down and have time to figure out. However, this is a game show so the human relationships here are put as priority to add in drama and suspense. I do love how the show defines some of its main participants like Danson Tang and You Ming Huang, who are there for 9 of the 10 since the 10th episode changed all the familiar faces from before. The dynamic of three of the most frequent participants definitely breathed life into the show.

Overall, its a fun experience. As with some of the other game shows on this channel in the same family, its one that makes me want to participate in real life in some of these maps. Maybe not the zombie ones because even if I knew it was fake, it would still be creepy. The budget behind these sets and stories and puzzles look so great and its what brings these stories to life and creates the atmosphere.

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Ultimate Beastermaster: Survival of the Fittest (Season 3, 2018)

Ultimate Beastmaster: Survival of the Fittest
(Season 3, 2018)

Countries: USA, South Korea, Great Britain, France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Australia

Hosts:

USA: Tiki Barber, CM Punk
South Korea: Seo Kyung Suk, Park Kyeong Rim
Great Britain: Kate Abdo, Stu Bennett
France: Gilles Marini, Sandy Heribert
Germany: Micky Beisenherz, Jeannine Michaelsen
Mexico: Luis Ernesto Franco, Ines Sainz
Brazil: Rafinha Bastos, Anderson Silva
Australia: Dannii Minogue, Nick Cummins

Season 3 of The Ultimate Beastmaster is definitely a survival of the fittest. After last year, it seems they’ve spent those extra months to revamp the Beast. The show itself which felt more like the Ninja Warrior game show style is definitely feeling much more like a legitimate competition with a slight revamp in point system, modified obstacles and a new structure to the competition itself. There are more countries, less athletes, more possibilities to gain extra points based on speed and the show adds in a semifinals portion. For mega fans like myself who can’t help to binge the entire show over the weekend of the launch, its a lot to process whether all those changes made the show more competition or did it create an imbalance to the athletes in each round making it to the semifinals and then to the finals. However, I have to say, by the time I reached the finals, I was sold through and through on this new set-up for Ultimate Beastmaster.

Season 3 doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and that makes it so exciting because it gives this Netflix reality show not only an international twist but also has the perk of having the countries involved be hosted with their own languages. It is something I’ve appreciated from the first season and highlights some fantastic athletes. This season’s athletes are simply incredible. A lot of them that made it through really showed resilience, perseverance, motivation and even packed in some incredibly inspiring stories from different backgrounds. I might never train to conquer the Beast, it feels a little late but it did give me such an appreciation of the obstacles and respect for these fantastic athletes.

If you are like me, well, lets take a look at some of the changes more in depth and how I feel its improved Ultimate Beastmaster as a whole both from the entertainment value like the hosts and countries as well as the competition set-up itself. Note that there will be no spoilers. I won’t tell you who wins the season, who makes it to whichever part or mention particularly any athletes. The joy is letting their abilities and successes surprise you when you go watch it for yourself.

Ultimate Beastmaster

Contestants & Hosts

This year’s new addition is Australia and Great Britain for starters. They bring in their own rivalries along with some of the other countries also falling into their own competitions especially propelled by the hosts as they fight in their booths in past year. To be honest, the hosts themselves bring in some screen time and they are full of life. One of the features of Ultimate Beastmaster is that each country gets their show hosted by that country or the language the hosts are speaking. For me in Canada, well, we always get the US version of things which is not a bad thing. This year, Tiki Barber makes a return and CM Punk replaces last season’s co-host. I don’t know who he is but hearing Tiki Barber have the chance of calling him “Punk” all the line legitimately because its his name makes it kind of entertaining at times. There is a fair screen time for other hosts too.

In terms of contestants, this year’s is all about who they are. I like the fact that they decreased the amount of contestants making it one per country but adding 2 extra countries (I believe) to have 8 countries instead of 6 with 2 contestants to make it even more diverse and of course, the decreased amount lets us see more lengthy versions of their Beastmaster run in each level while also seeing more of their back story. In the previous seasons, it would favor over the country we were watching but in sportsmanship like manner, which makes this more of an actual competition, it gives the feeling of equal emphasis and that adds so much to the competition. Honestly, I have my more favorite contestants because we learn more about them and watch them through the levels so everyone gets to cheer for everyone or someone when we reach the semifinals or even the finals. It got me more involved. Sometimes the drama is a little heavy handed but I think in some cases, Ultimate Beastmaster also doubles as motivation that working out is a positive thing and inspiring as different outlets for different people in different country having different reasons that pushed to the sports and fitness that they choose to excel in.

Point System & Tournament Structure

In the past, from what I remember at least, the point system was accumulative over the 3 rounds and the lowest contestants like 2 or 4 or something would get eliminated. I did wonder on how I felt for the first few episodes when I saw that each round resets the points to zero and makes it structured around their successes in that round so that the contestants all get a clean slate for the next part and not have a head start on their points giving them an advantage to move on to the next round. At the same time, point thrusters are present as usual while they added something called mega point thrusters which count down and encourage the contestants to be faster to get there and maximize their points. Its good because while caution is important, the same amount of points is differentiated by their time in who comes out first. Mega thrusters also give the contestants a way to who is willing to make those risks to get ahead and sometimes, especially with one contestant this season, it cost them a lot.

What makes this more like a tournament is that every episode yields the top two to go into the semi-finals. And semi-finals are after each set of 3 episodes bringing in 6 contestants to do pretty much an endurance run of the entire obstacles as far as they can with on restart from a checkpoint. This is what makes it more like a tournament. The top few will go to the finals which now isn’t a race to the top but how far or how fast they can get to the top with any points as possible.

Obstacle Course

ultimate beastmaster s3

Finally, its impossible to not end this without talking about the obstacle courses. If you follow it like myself, you will see that some of the obstacles especially the particularly challenging ones are still around. It is nice to see that while this course is very favoring towards those with upper body strength, some of the courses are changed a little more to be a little easier but making some other parts also more challenging. Its these changes that give it a nice twist and refreshing to watch. Sometimes the little changes are all you need to round out the experience.

Overall, I’m a big fan of Ultimate Beastmaster. I love the new structure and the whole tournament style works really well. The new system and less countries and having more time to see the contestants and the obstacles in general all contribute to a better experience. Its an awesome change.  I’m hoping that it gets renewed again.

TV Binge: Queer Eye (Season 1, 2018)

Nailed it Season 2 (TV Binge HERE) gave me the push I needed to start up Queer Eye on Netflix. I never saw the original on TV so I’ve only ever heard of what it is and never really knew. However, the mini special episode on Nailed It was so fun that I knew that I had to check it out.

Queer Eye (Season 1, 2018)

Queer Eye

Hosts: Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France

A new Fab Five set out to Atlanta to help the city’s straight men refine their wardrobes, grooming, diet, cultural pursuits, and home décor. – IMDB

Queer Eye starts off with the opening segment with the Fab 5 talking about being a part of this team and what they say is exactly the perfect way to start it off with two key quotes:

“The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance.” – Tan

“My goal is to figure out how we’re similar as opposed to how different we are.” – Antoni

Queer Eye does a great job at delivering on their goals of acceptance and highlighting what makes LGBT similar. Other than when I was a child and found it odd, I’ve always been open-minded about the LGBT community so I don’t quite understand what the difference is other than the fact that they like a different gender. However, the show itself delivers more than that. For one, there’s the Fab 5. Second, we need to take a look at these makeover stories and how impactful and meaningful they are and finally, the message it wants to deliver as a whole and the overall enjoyment of the series.

Fab 5

Like I said before, I’ve never watched the original so I have no comparison (not that I think it needs to be compared). This Fab 5 is comprised of Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness. As a group, they take care of food & wine, fashion, design, culture and grooming respectively. As a group, they blend so well together on screen from how they admire each other’s work and how to approach their game plan of the overall makeover. There are some great moments as a group throughout the season because they each have their expertise. With that said, each of the Fab 5’s expertise brings a lot to the table. They each know what they are doing and it really makes the viewers feel that the knowledge they bring is educating the public. They never go extreme and stuff anything down anyone’s throats but they feel so genuine to watch because of their dedication to the cause. I’ve watched and rewatched the show a lot of times and their reactions and expressions always bring me so much joy and whatever emotions. They are all so unique in their personality that it blends so well to make it an entertaining watch.

Queer Eye

As we look at the makeover stories here, the first season was our introduction to what the Fab 5 wanted to achieve and determine what they were capable of. In that sense, the first episode set the tone perfectly with an older gentlemen who was open-minded but also fell into some misconceptions in how gay men were identified. For example when he asks who wears the pants in the relationship. However, be it the age difference or the lack of confidence of their first makeover person, it all works well to show what the Fab 5 is all about even if you’ve never seen the original. They educate not only in their own domains and its not only a physical transformation but also a mental transformation as they try to help build confidence or help them see a better version of themselves that someone will want to be. Be it this first episode called “You Can’t Fix Ugly” or the other episodes in the season, you can see the different backgrounds and the different perspectives as the Fab 5 remain open-minded and honest about the feelings and views as they also learn about the people they are dealing with to not only transform the person of the week but also take away from that experience. Its a really fantastic thing to see communication especially in the current state of the world and all the news we hear about the bad stuff going on. Season 1 followed along very strong in the candidates that were chosen in the following episodes. There were local heroes like a fireman trying to get ready to raise enough money for a fireman program, a man coming out to his family, other one dealing with opening up himself to the people in his life, a father of six trying to make it all happen in the everyday chaos then of course one of the best of the season, was the police officer. Its a lot of variety and that makes it fresh and new to watch as well as educational to see the different views people have on the different topics in the society. There’s a lot of heartstrings to be tugged here and a few times, I was looking for my box of Kleenex (and I mean, in some cases, every rewatch gets me all over again).

Queer Eye

Suffice to say that I’m a huge fan of the show. Queer Eye delivers on so many levels. The show itself and the Fab 5 have a great personality that works so well in the realm of what they are doing. In many ways, a lot of what they are saying and teaching is relatable because its not just a physical transformation. At the same time, it works well to showcase the initial statement of how its about acceptance of everyone no matter the differences but rather to see the similarities that everyone has. I think the message is a great one and because of these heartfelt stories and the makeover, its entertaining and educational and that makes for some great positive reality TV and something I totally recommend for everyone.

TV Binge: Nailed It (Season 2, 2018)

If you missed the first season recap, you can find it HERE.

Probably one of the fastest TV binges ever! While I have a ton of TV binges I have to work on, Nailed It is surprisingly easy to write about so during this taxing week, I decided to put a lot of reality TV binges in advance.

Nailed It (Season 2, 2018)

Nailed It Season 2

Hosts: Nicole Byer, Jacques Torres

Guest Judges: Jon Gabrus, Ron Ben-Israel, Johnny Hekker, Waylynn Lucas, Art Smith, Joshua John Russell, Antoni Porowski

Nailed It is a pretty lovely concept and it works overall as a reality TV show. If you want the nutshell version of how I liked the first season, I liked it enough for me to hop right onto it the first weekend after it launched and then probably finished it over 2 days. Its fairly short episodes and there is only 6 + 1 episodes so its not exactly impossible to do either. In some ways, the entertainment value is there. Nicole Byer is great at her job. I know some people think she is annoying to watch but I actually think in Season 2, her and Jacques Torres has found somewhat of a balance and chemistry to make it work. I like her bombastic personality and its that personality that makes it fun to watch. The same goes for the judges who make their way onto the show which all have something to offer and add a little light to everything.

Nailed It

However, sadly, I do feel that Nailed It in Season 2 has betrayed its concept a little. Even if you went to Wikipedia or IMDB, they call it an amateur bake-off reality TV series. However, it didn’t quite go that patch especially in the first round of challenges as we saw watermelon carving and then a football field reconstruction where the extend of making food was organizing, chopping and making guacamole. All very noble things to learn how to do and hard to put together but doesn’t quite fit into the formula that the show is trying to sell initially. Maybe its because I watched this for the amateur baker angle that it disappointed me. Technically, I mean, this all does fit into the idea because Nailed It is just about hot messes that happen, right? So, you could apply it to anything that can be recreated.

Nailed It

Fact is, I’d be lying if I said that Nailed It Season 2 wasn’t entertaining. It was pretty entertaining and I loved the Queer Eye crossover episode which was just too short. That episode actually got me to sit down and actually get started on that series, which I’ll be doing a TV Binge on very soon for both seasons because well, while this one I’ve only watched once since the end of June. I’ve already watched Queer Eye both seasons twice. I’m going on a tangent so lets bring it back to Nailed It! Entertaining still but not quite what I expected with the additional diversity of the projects. When I get to the new reality TV Baking competition series Sugar Rush soon also, we’ll talk about how this could go so many different themes instead of going into these odd non-baking challenges. I wouldn’t be so disappointed if it was baking savory snacks to be honest. Its just that baking thing that some challenges was missing and I felt like Nailed It lost its way just a little every once in a while.

But then, if Nicole Byer is back for Season 3 of Nailed It, I’d be down to watch some more.

TV Binge: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2, 2018)

It sure feels like a long time that I have been working on this TV Binge. A really long time! If you missed the Season 1 TV Binge post, you can find it HERE.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2, 2018)

a series of unfortunate events s2

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman, Lucy Punch, Nathan Fillion, Sara Canning, Patrick Breen, Sara Rue

Stepping right off from Season 1, the Baudelaire Orphans now have gone through a bunch of odd guardians. Each one failing because of the horrible Count Olaf and his mischief or simply because they were some shady or clueless characters. Some cases even a mesh of the two components. It was filled with dark humor and a rather formulaic way of the Baudelaires always getting away. Entertaining as always but still the idea of the episodes always followed a same pattern. Unlike a lot of viewers, the first season took me a little while to get into. With where it left off in Season 1, this Netflix Original has established itself and its tone along with the characters so we should be in for a fun ride in Season 2.

Fortunately, we do get exactly that. Filled with more clever vocabulary lessons and random narration from Patrick Warburton in the oddest locations, the Baudelaires set off for a second season that is much more sinister and dangerous than the previous one. While the tone of the show hasn’t changed much, the events are more brutal. This is still a family show so the camera always cuts away from the potentially disgusting bits. Before we get ahead of ourselves too much, Season 2 covered Books 5 to 9 in the series: Austere Academy, Ersatz Elevator, Vile Village, Hostile Hospital and Carnivorous Carnival. Structured much like the first season, each book adaptation is separated into two parts. We get some new characters introduced (and in some cases, taken away). Honestly, I like this structure, it gives it a somewhat nice slice of moment. You can choose to binge watch the entire series if you want but you can also watch it like separate stories as the Baudelaires escape Count Olaf with less and less leeway leading to a nail-biting cliffhanger.

Overall, Season 2 is pretty strong. I got involved and immersed a lot quicker. It helps to see each of the characters grow more mature and smarter. The Baudelaires end up gaining a lot of coy and street smarts to pair with their natural intelligence. They each get their own spotlight, even little Sunny. The series remembers to be fair. As they get smarter, Count Olaf also devises much more intricate plans that give us surprises and each part as its own twists and turns that work to its advantage.

For things I loved/liked a lot in Season 2:

New Friends

A Series of Unfortunate Events

At the end of season 1, we stopped when we saw the Quagmires, now landing in the first six episode of this season. Quagmires and Baudelaires learn about their similarities and they are both brave and resourceful in their own ways. Call them the dynamic foursome if you will but the bonds they create in Austere Academy carries them to save these loyal friends for the next two stories in Ersatz Elevator and Vile Village. Its a nice change in pace to have them here. While most of the credit does go to following closely to the source materials pacing, it is nice to see these four work so well together. In these extreme situations, it is important to have allies.

New Villain

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lucy Punch joins the villainous Count Olaf troupe  as the wealthy woman who is the student of Count Olaf and his girlfriend, Esme Squalor. She is packed with all kinds of accents and characters. Honestly, she is a joy to watch on screen. I’ve only seen her do weird odd roles in other movies before so its quite the breather to see her really embrace this role and take it in a wonderfully entertaining and wicked direction, especially in Hostile Hospital. She adds just a little bit of extra wickedness to Count Olaf which changes the game a little from the silly henchmen & henchwomen in his ragtag troop.

New VFD Members

a series of unfortunate events

VFD and a mysterious sugar bowl, along with the reveal of the narrator’s identity all get a part in Season 2. It adds depth and context as well as some answers to the million of questions stirring in our minds that are left unanswered for both the viewers and the Baudelaires. Nathan Fillion adds his charming self as Jacques Snicket who ends up recruiting Olivia Calaban, a librarian who tries to help the children and is smart enough to be suspicious. Olivia Calaban is a wonderful character played by Sara Rue and is eventually recruited into VFD. She has some of the answers but being new, she is more passionate about the mission that Jacques Snicket teaches her. They are a great team and as we learn about the VFD, we see that its a chase to figure out how everything pieces together.

New Locations

a series of unfortunate events

A Series of Unfortunate Events has been very location-based so far. In the first season, we had some incredibly imaginative locations belonging to an array of odd characters. In Season 2, we continue on with this trend. We see the Austere Academy and the orphan’s shack. In Ersatz Elevator, we move to a wealthy penthouse location as well as the various fishy (literally) restaurants. Then we move on to the Vile Village where crows migrate from one location to the next at a set routine. Hostile Hospital is a incomplete half hospital with one of its wings still in construction limbo and of course, the most fascinating of all, is the rundown circus of Madame Lulu’s Caligari Carnival. The production design and tone and lighting all add to the environment of the series.

Overall…I kept it quite to the point in this one. I still love the young cast playing the Baudelaire Orphans. They are fantastic. Neil Patrick Harris is great as Count Olaf. The success of Season 2 despite its episode formula is the depth of the story. We learn more, the characters develop further and the situation gets more dire and dangerous. It has all the great points of the first season and adds a little more, just enough to keep us curious but still unveiling a bit more to give the story some context. With the fantastic ending and the brilliant pacing in Season 2, I can’t wait for Season 3 (which should be the final season if they follow the progression of the books).

TV Binge: Gilmore Girls (Season 7, 2007)

And we are in the final season of the normal run of Gilmore Girls! Of course, we still have the Netflix one and that is coming up very soon. I know I say it all the time

Gilmore Girls (Season 7, 2007)

Gilmore Girls Season 7

Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Cast: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Keiko Agena, Scott Patterson, Yanic Truesdale, Kelly Bishop, Melissa McCarthy, Edward Hermann, Sean Gunn, Liza Weil, David Sutcliffe, Todd Lowe, Danny Strong

A dramedy centering around the relationship between a thirtysomething single mother and her teen daughter living in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. – IMDB

The final normal season of Gilmore Girls has its good bit of drama as is expected. We ended Season 6 in somewhat of a bad moment with Lorelai making a decision she needed to do for herself but following up with something she pretty much knew she shouldn’t have done. As for Rory, she has to bid her temporary adieu to Logan as he gets shipped off to London to take on his responsibilities as directed by his father. Separation all around with the Gilmore Girls and its not an easy way to get back into Season 7.

Season 7 takes a turn for a mix of good and bad in my opinion. In one way, I think there were events that had to happen and they did. In other ways, we all knew in our minds who we wanted the Gilmore Girls to be with or where we wanted them to go. After seven seasons, we know these ladies well. We love them for their quirk and their relationship and of course all the crazy people they are friends with whether at Yale or in Stars Hollow. And at certain parts, Season 7 felt tedious. Some things overstayed their welcome and it was hard to not be frustrated at how things were going down. As we barreled towards the finale of this series, there was a lot of unfinished business. Luckily, the series did still have a lot of funny moments in between plus a lot of bonding experiences. At the same time, their crazy friends still managed to keep everything exactly the crazy level we loved to watch. Sure, things don’t always go the way we like, but life doesn’t either so its all good. The season ends and all is relatively right in the Gilmore Girls universe and I think that is what truly matters.

With that said, here’s a few highlights of things I liked:

Lorelai and Chris

gilmore girls

Look, I’m a fan of Lorelai and Luke all the way. But Lorelai and Chris had to happen eventually. She always ran back to  Chris even if he was the immature choice even in this season that he has suffered one failed marriage and is a father and even is loaded. It doesn’t change the fact that he is just a weak character who runs away from a lot of things instead of trying to work it out or talk it through. I have a love/hate relationship with this pairing to be honest. Its necessary because first loves are hard to get out of our systems as lots of TV series and movies like to do. However, they tried it and Chris Hayden is sweet and there was a decent portion here with a lot of lovely moments with them together but they just couldn’t get through the tough times and be it Chris’s character or that Lorelai jumped into this a little too quick, its hard to deny that it was meant to end eventually.

Lucy and Olivia

Gilmore Girls

Rory had to eventually make some new friends especially since her term was ending as Yale Daily News editor and here we are with Lucy and Olivia who pops up in the moments before that happens. Krysten Ritter pre-Jessica Jones days was quite the opposite character in the stuff she did. I do like her quite a bit and Lucy and Olivia had a lot of the artsy and creative indie vibes going on that added a little different to the show. They were unique and it matched well with  how Rory was unique also. They didn’t have to fit with everyone around them. Of course, Lucy’s character also brings in some of its own ghosts from the past in Rory’s life, aka Marty who is the mystery “Boyfriend” reference until things take a turn for the weird when he pretends to not know her and the secret just gets way out of hand. That arc was pretty good and I think it was meant to perhaps fulfill the love that some people had for Rory and Marty as a couple. I do think that Marty would make a good pair with Rory except he loses out on timing a lot and he feels like the nice and supportive best friend and never worked too hard to establish his feelings for her to start.

Lane and her Pregnancy

gilmore girls

My, how everyone has grown up since the first season! It seems the Kim women are known to get pregnant super efficiently. Lane comes back from her honeymoon and realizes she is pregnant and perhaps this is one of those really hilarious stories from this season as she goes from denial and not telling Zach to doubting him and then being scared and fighting her mom for how to raise the child, sorry..children because she’s having twins, then another freakout and of course, the baby shower debacle. The baby shower was probably one of my favorite episodes and moments in this season. It showed the Lorelai Gilmore importance here and the solid friendship between Rory and Lane despite not seeing them together so much. It also worked great to show how dedicated and supportive the town was. Plus, a part of me believes that Mrs. Kim saw a little way to modify her principles towards Lane a little. A love of character development to be seen in that one story throughout the season.

Mia & Emily Gilmore

Gilmore Girls

In terms of wrapping up some relationships back in the first two seasons, the three Gilmore Girls go on a road trip. As expected, it is quite hilarious as they bicker and have their snarky remarks and comments. Emily suddenly ends up being roped into attending Lorelai and Rory’s goal to attend Mia’s wedding. If you don’t remember, Mia was the owner of the Independence Inn and is almost like a second mother/grandmother to them. They owe a lot to her when Lorelai first left home. With that said, Emily has been struggling with feelings towards Mia, feeling perhaps her inadequacy and sadness about the things that she has missed with her daughter and granddaughter. There was a nice reconciliation here where they came to a good understanding about the importance of Emily in Lorelai and Rory’s lives and appreciation for each other.

Paris and Doyle

Gilmore Girls

The odd ball Paris and Doyle are definitely made for each other. Perhaps having some flashback behind the scenes from Paris, she ends up having the opposite of Rory as she approaches the end of university whereas Rory still didn’t have much. For her, she got accepted in everything and then made some decisions about the things she did and didn’t want to give up. Its Paris and she’s all abut business and success so can we really blame her? However, Paris is hard to shake after all the years and what Gilmore Girls season would be complete without some insensitive comment here and there by Paris while still feeling that she somehow does care about Rory and is one of the honest friends and Rory needs in her life.

Rory and Logan

Rory and Logan

One of the big moments of Season 7 had to be Logan’s proposal to Rory. I mean, for the first part of their season (and the past seasons), we’ve seen Logan in all kinds of behavior from jealousy to stupidity. There’s a lot of moments that I don’t like Logan (not surprising why I’m Team Jess). Sure, Logan has some redeeming moments like dropping everything to be with Rory when her grandfather has a heart attack. Then, he has a way with the grandparents and her father and such, but Logan’s also matured a lot in Season 7 because of work and then all the trouble he has gone through and pulled himself out of in some way or another. Is he worthy of Rory? Probably not but Rory sure seems to love him and well, I have to say that without knowing the revival series on Netflix, I would have agreed with her decision. At that point in time, it seemed that it was the Gilmore Girls trait to be strong and independent and Rory needed to have her path before subjecting herself to someone and following someone else’s plans for her. I guess what Paris says sometimes does stick, right?

 

Rory’s Farewell & Stars Hollow

Gilmore Girls

I honestly don’t talk about Stars Hollow enough in these TV binges and it took this final season to realize that if I didn’t talk about now then well, it would be hard to talk about it in the next one. Rory’s sudden farewell and departure from Stars Hollow definitely made an epic finale for the series in whole. It was a new stage for everyone. Perhaps it was at this time that we truly got to see Stars Hollow and how much this little community took care of each other and rooted for each other no matter how quirky or whacky or weird everyone was and just how much over the 7 seasons, its hard to not love each and everyone of them, long time citizens and new additions of course. What a wonderful way to end the Season 7. Sure, no one got a concrete ending to their future about what happens but do we really need to? I don’t think so. We got everything we needed to feel satisfied and we could give these characters a happily ever after in our minds even if Rory doesn’t choose any of the leading men that have gone through her lives but at least she’s able to finally do the thing she loves the most and leave with such a fond memory.

Overall

Season 7 had its ups and downs. Its not the best of the seven season during normal run season on TV however, it did pack in a lot of great moments, witty dialogue and gave all of its characters some form of conclusion and most importantly, development. It wrapped up the loose ends and even gave us something to think about. Seeing as this ended in 2007, no one knew what to expect. If the series were have ended then, I would have been okay with it. With that said, the Netflix revival mini series was a welcome thought.

TV Binge: On My Block (Season 1, 2018)

I have a ton of TV Binge to review but after finishing On My Block this past weekend (for the second time), I decided to bump this one up so we could look at it a little earlier. I picked this out completely spontaneously and well, lets just say that its worth some talk about and if you haven’t seen it, you probably should. I promise to avoid the big spoilers but if you plan on watching this series, its probably best read only the top portion and not look at the breakdown. I should have a spoiler alert in there just to stop you to from going further.

On My Block (Season 1, 2018)

On My Block

Creator: Eddie Gonzalez, Jeremy Haft, Lauren Iungerich

Cast: Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, Diego Tinoco, Brett Gray, Ronni Hawk, Peggy Blow, Julio Macias, Jessica Marie Garcia

A coming-of-age comedy about four bright, street-savvy friends navigating their way through high school in the gritty inner city of South Central Los Angeles. – IMDB

I’ve talked about my disappointment in teen movies lately on Netflix with F the Prom (review) and #RealityHigh (review) so for me to jump into this one was quite the spontaneous event. I knew nothing about this series beforehand and while it seemed like it was a teen comedy and most of the time, it did maintain the humor throughout because of its charismatic and charming young cast, it still highlighted some of the underlying issues in the neighborhood that they lived in. For example, when they heard gunshots, they would guess casually which type it was. With that said, once the first episode started, it reminded me of my experience watching (and reading) Freedom Writers (review), which happens to be one of my favorite movies and such a powerful movie to say the least. On My Block gave me exactly the same feeling and trust me when I say that its a great compliment from me to the creators and cast of this show.

The structure of the show is also very binge-worthy with 10 episodes of 30 minutes each. It goes for a quick season and just fun little doses of the story which keeps it paced quick enough to understand the situation and the teens. The story itself packs in all kinds of relationships and secrets. Its a coming of age for each of the teens in this group as new people join into their crew and situations occur with family. Everyone has their own story and their own struggle and they are growing and adapting and reacting to everything around them. It keeps the story focused and fun because while they struggle, there is this bond that makes them so special to watch. Not to mention, they have an amazing soundtrack to match up everything here.

The charm of the show does lie in its great writing but also in how Sierra Capri, Jason Genao, Diego Tinoco and Brett Gray take on their roles as Monse, Ruby, Cesar and Jamal respectively. They add a great deal of personality and it gives their characters such a genuine and believable quality to it all. We cheer for them and laugh with them while celebrate their little successes and feel bad for their failures. Life might seem trivial in their eyes but they also have much bigger things to deal with in the background especially with their neighborhood their in. Its a unique (because it is very rarely used at least to my knowledge) setting and I don’t know how accurate it reflects this urban community but its nice to see a show not focused on rich kids with their self-inflicted problems (for the most part). Its  refreshing angle and an intriguing one that has me very excited for season 2, which I believe has been announced since I finished the season.  But then they also have some fun supporting characters that really are incredibly fun as well from Olivia (Ronnie Hawk) to Ruby’s grandmother (Peggy Blow) and of course Spooky (Julia Macias).

On My Block highlights a lot of great themes and packs in some great characters. If you haven’t seen the series, my suggestion is this point forward will have *mild spoilers* as I go into a more in-depth breakdown of different elements.

Friendship

On My Block

There’s something so naive and yet great about this friendship between the four main characters here. Monse, Jamal, Cesar and Ruby.These childhood friends have such a great dynamic despite being different in their own goals and personalities. However, its these differences that compliment each other and make for such comedic moments which gives this story, despite its shadowing difficulties from each character and their backgrounds and situations, a much less intense sort of vibe.

on my block

Along with these childhood friends, Ruby’s house is inhabited by a family friend’s daughter, Olivia. Its the first girl friend that Monse actually connects with. The way that their friendship develops is quite something to be admired. Many shows us boys as a breaking point between girls but these two show genuine respect for each other and put their friendship before other things. Its truly some goals to see happen more in TV series, especially in teen shows.

Love

On My Block

It’s hard to do shows without the love arc and I have to say that this friendship we see is so strong that it’s hard to see that Monse and Cesar have a thing going on in secret. Somehow the being in secret part is also quite apparent so its funny how Jamal and Ruby haven’t seen through it. However, I like this little love story they have going on here. Plus, you add in the fact of finding a balance between a friendship and loving someone. You can totally see their struggle but also fall in love with them a little as well.  On the other hand, we also have the Ruby’s infatuation with Olivia and then Olivia’s obvious attraction to Cesar which takes a general play in the series as well. Ruby does a lot of sweet and corny things but I think its because of these things that makes his character such a memorable one as well.

Personal Dilemmas

On My Block

While the show does pace itself fairly quickly, the four characters each have their own focus. Monse first start with her love issue but then morphs into tracking a lady she brushes by and she suspects is her mother who left her when she was a baby. Cesar has his gang background that he struggles to accept especially as his group of friends tries very hard to keep him as he was before he was jumped in. That part of the story is intriguing especially as we get to see him bond with his brother, Spooky and realize that everyone has their own dreams. Ruby on the other hand maybe is the most fortunate as he turns into the goofy guy who really just wants some privacy and have his own room while balancing out the group but trying to impress Olivia. Finally, Jamal probably has the simplest but also the oddest personal dilemma and goal: the first is to impress his dad and pretend to be in the football team which ends up being some of the most hilarious parts in the story. The comedic moments with Jamal continues as he looks at his dream and belief that takes him on a treasure hunt for what he believes is the RollerWorld money. As crazy as his schemes are and everyone with their own problems and while four characters seems like a lot to track in such a short season run time, it definitely covers what it needs to enough to connect with these four.

Memorable Supporting/Cameo Characters

on my block

There are so many supporting characters here. I can’t quite place whether Olivia is considered a supporting character but she does get a lot of time with the group since she’s the new addition. Possibly the most hilarious one goes to Peggy Blow as Abuelita. She is a quirky one. While she seems like the silly grandma in the background, she also is the one that helps out in the background as well and says some hilarious things. She’s hard but supportive, exactly how I remember my grandparents. She supports Jamal through RollerWorld and helps Olivia and Ruby when they need it even when she feels underappreciated. In many ways, she is more there than the parents and teaches some important values to them. As we go along, this group meets all these colorful characters from the parents of these four to a man who finds company in a garden gnome.

Overall

On My Block is absolutely a great binge. It was so great that I binged it a second time and almost wanted to go for a third time. Great young characters set in a dangerous backdrop which makes a tone change almost halfway through. There’s a lot of personal dilemma and character development. The soundtrack is awesome and well, even in its dangerous and dramatic moments, they have a decent amount of comedy to balance it out. Its tough to find charming and unique teen TV shows nowadays but this one doesn’t only highlight a specific group but also does a great job at it while delivering a fantastic story. Its probably going to be a long wait for Season 2 (hopefully not), but I’m definitely looking forward to see where it goes, especially with the cliffhanger ending of Season 1. I have a few guesses but the creators/writers of the show have caught me off-guard quite a few times so I’m guessing they’ll do something unpredictable as well.

Have you seen On My Block? Thoughts?