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.

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What’s Up #5

Its overdue but better late than never! Time for the next What’s Up!

The last three weeks have been a lot of movies, let me warn you in advance. Still, I have some chats abut the other topics from TV series to books to games.

Thanks for watching!
Remember to subscribe if you enjoyed to not miss out!

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).

What’s Up #4

And now..time for another installment of What’s Up!

What’s Up with everyone? 
Fill me in on what you’ve been binging, reading, playing and watching this past while!

Thanks for watching! If you enjoyed the vid, consider subscribing, it would make my day! 🙂

Have a awesome weekend everyone!!
I know ours (aka Game Warp) will be consumed with E3 2018 conferences!

 

What’s Up #3

Welcome welcome everyone!

2 weeks have gone by and its time for my next venture into the video update! I’m sorry that I haven’t had more time to figure out a better set-up. Its on my endless to-do list, I promise! I’m debating whether recording earlier would be the key. I’ll do a few tests to check it out.

For now, please bear with this dim and weird camera angle.

Thanks for watching!
What have you been binging, reading, playing and watching?

What’s Up #2 [Vlog]

Welcome back to another What’s Up series vlog!

If you are new here, What’s Up started off as a written series where I talked about the things I’ve been up to in terms of TV series binges, what I’m reading, what I’m watching and what I’m playing. In a fun attempt to give it a new place and to revive the Youtube channel, I’ve turned it into a video series. Its currently a biweekly feature.

Hope you enjoy!

Thanks for watching!
As always, feel free to share what you’re up to?
As well as any recommendations for me to check out!

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?