TV Binge: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 1, 2018)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 1, 2018)

Director: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Richard Coyle, Miranda Otto, Lachlan Watson, Adeline Rudolph, Abigail Cowen, Gavin Leatherwood

As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. Based on the Archie comic. – IMDB

Being yet again wildly behind on most Netflix series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina finally made its start as I work through the Netflix back catalogue. Being fans of Archie comics and originally meant as a spinoff of the show but no longer exactly the case, despite the mention of Riverdale in some occasions of the show in dialogue, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina starts off in its Part 1 setting up the stage from the get-go as Sabrina enters into her 16th birthday and has to decide whether she will be following her witch side or mortal side. Of course, she chooses neither, making her life split in half as she fulfills both sides of her obligations. With threats popping up from various locations and her human emotional side taking over her to protect her friends as some unknown manipulating forces also affect her situation as a whole, the show revolves around various topics in this world set in Greendale which has both the witch/warlock network but also the mortal network coming into play as Sabrina tries to strike a balance and starts to realize that maybe its not quite so easy to do that.

The first part lays out its foundation for everything and usually for these sort of teen shows are aimed to build up the scenario, the world and the characters. For the most part, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina does a decent job. From start to the finish, all 11 episodes do contribute to crafting this dark world of Sabrina both on the mortal and magical side. Sabrina’s life takes a turn as it gets affected from her family to friends to love, making clear those divisions but also the things that makes her unique as a “half breed”. On a storyline level, it manages to keep it rather good but of course, with its fair share of teenage angst added into the mix as it brings up themes of bullying and gender much like the darker side has its own set of issues from the patriarchy and more older beliefs of the darker world at hand. There are some odd frustrating moments here and there especially since Sabrina’s character, as she shifts between the worlds, becomes rather annoying at parts but its all part of the character building as her character does solidify, much like the other ones, by the end of Part 1.

Perhaps one of the more head-scratching elements of the show is the visuals that the production or perhaps post-production decides to take as the show in almost the entirety has this blurry hue that soaks in the background. Its uncertain whether its meant to give the show the visual uniqueness or to create the separation of the two worlds, however as much as for some scenes, it does it some favors, in others, it is quite a nuisance to be present all the time and maybe even taking away the effectiveness it could have it wasn’t present most (if not all) of the the time. The revamped style of Sabrina the Teenage Witch to this version of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (much like Archie versus Riverdale) is already a darker and more graphic version so it almost feels unnecessary to try to push more of it onto its viewers. Sure, it is quite noticeable and gives it that unique feeling but when its the whole show that uses this, it eventually fades into the background and loses its meaning or purpose (if it had any in the first place other than just as a visual aesthetic).

Overall, Part 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a pretty fun ride. As a teen show, it still keeps a lot of the expected elements of teenage angst in the mortal world but still mirrors itself well into the magical world as she enters into The Academy of Unseen Arts. There are still the little cliques and the contrast of the values from each side, much like the contrast of the two worlds where the mortal emphasized the light/good element and is what the normal person would use in terms of lingo but the other side, the witch/warlock side is all about embodying the darkness which swaps things around turning things around. Its a pretty interesting world to dive into by the end even if there are some rather frustrating parts here and there but the show does keep things pretty constant with its conflicts and dilemma that surrounds Sabrina constantly.

TV Binge: Love Death + Robots (Season 3, 2022)

Love Death + Robots (Season 3, 2022)

Creator: Tim Miller

A collection of animated short stories that span various genres including science fiction, fantasy, horror and comedy. – IMDB

Season 3 of Love Death + Robots has finally landed. For those who don’t know what it is, its basically an anthology series full of short stories revolving around the themes of love, death and robots sometimes touching only one of those domains and sometimes multiple ones. The big draw of the show does have to go to its production by David Fincher and Tim Miller who also does helm at least one of these episodes each. As a recap, Season 1 was a fantastic selection of shorts that created an incredibly memorable season. Season 2, while a step down from the first, changed its tone a little bit but not so much the variety and also delivered some pretty good shorts. Some had very good discussion points and some were simply meant for entertainment value. Season 3 comes up right in the middle of the two: Its not quite as good as the first but is a step up from Season 2. The stories are more equal in their execution and context and most of them are fairly entertaining

While I won’t go through each of the episodes one by one, here’s a quick rundown of how I’d rank this year’s episodes from most to least favorite. I don’t usually do it and honestly, not exactly why I chose this rather balanced season to do the ranking but here we go. It probably would change if I thought about it a little more depending on my mood as well.

  1. Bad Travelling
  2. Swarm
  3. Night of the Mini Dead
  4. Three Robots: Exit Strategies
  5. Jibaro
  6. Mason’s Rats
  7. In Vaulted Halls Entombed
  8. Kill Team Kill
  9. The Very Pulse of the Machine

Going quickly through what stands out in this group despite its rankings, Bad Travelling is David Fincher’s contribution and not so surprising it made the top of my list mostly because the story was like a creature feature and was on a boat. While not exactly unpredictable, it also included some good voice acting especially with Troy Baker part of it.

The second one is Tim Miller’s contribution Swarm which has to be one of the more detailed and vivid world building about a future where the arrogant humans have destroyed their world and are trying to find a way to rebuild using alien technology from the organic creatures around them.

Night of the Mini Dead is basically a small little world, almost like watching toy figures enacting the whole zombie apocalypse. This one is pure entertainment, packed with laughs and explosions in the most cartoon way possible and yet that is what makes it unique.

Another worthy mention does have to go to the middle of the group and the last episode of the series, Jibaro. This one is very odd and yet, the story it delivers is one that is very gripping even with its lack of dialogue and mostly visual value as it revolves around a lot of dancing to express the story of these two characters. The myth that it delivers along with the mystical creature at hand does bring in just enough lore to make it intriguing. Its definitely one that would be potentially a fantastic full length film.

As I try to stay fairly spoiler free with the stories themselves, since it would be horrible to spoil a short as is, the different stories here bring in a ratpocalypse, a space discovery, a lot of different creatures and a decent amount of action. There’s a lot to discover in the stories and probably some that might even bring in some discussion points.

Love Death + Robots, regardless of the season, is usually fun time. It stands out because of the shorts compilation which are all very creative in one element or another. It reflects on humanity, post-apocalypse and usually is in a world much different from our current reality whether its set on Earth or in space.

What’s Up & Adventures – April 2022

Welcome to this month’s wrap up for What’s Up & Adventures for April 2022.

April is always a crazy month work-wise and adding in a lot of the current situation, its been a lot more bonkers as well. Hence the later than usual recap post. While adventures is a little lacking, we have been getting things together in general. Lets take a quick look at some fast updates before we jump into the much more interesting Wha’ts Up portion.

New Season – Movies and Tea Podcast

While I am still working through the reblogs for the previous season, Movies and Tea blog and our podcast platform everywhere is already updating the new season of the podcast as we go through our Quentin Tarantino season. For myself, its a whole new adventure since its almost three quarters first time watches.

You can check it out over at the blog HERE or on most podcast platforms.

Baby Things and Preparation

I have really held off on talking a whole lot about the pregnancy since my little not so hidden announcement at the beginning of the year or last month’s office move/nursery setup. As the nursery starts shaping up and my due date is a little over a month away and the last stretch of preparation shows up, its fine time to talk about something probably not so important but something I always thought was a somewhat memorable moment if and when I had a baby and its buying the first pair of shoes.

Not to mention, one of April’s highlights was going for the second ultrasound as the first one had a minor little abnormality which was all normal in this one. All around good news so far plus seeing the much bigger baby then was a pretty touching moment.

What’s Up – April 2022

Books

  • The Girl On The Train (Review)

Currently reading: Nevernight

Still relatively on track with reading as I try to use the commute to the office to read as much as I can. The Girl on the Train is a pretty decent read. I do hope to watch the adaptations at some point.

As for the currently reading selection, Nevernight has a world building which is pretty extensive but there are some elements that I am finding a little annoying. I am still fairly early in the book so I don’t want to make any judgments quite yet especially since beginning of books are my usual hurdle.

Movies

  • Virus (1999)
  • You vs. Wild: Out Cold (2021)
  • Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy (2022)
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021, Review)
  • Desperado (1995)
  • Knives Out (2019, Review)
  • Rebecca (2020)
  • The Invisible Man (2020, Review)
  • The Sadness (2021, Review)
  • The Crazies (2010, Review)

Movies are still going relatively strong this month. Even the writing is pretty on track as well. The movie reviewing writing slump is slowly going away. With that said, this month was full of fun film discoveries from all genres. Nothing really disappointed too much except one or two. The interactive film You Vs The Wild: Out Cold was kind of a snoozefest but these things are never too long so it helps fill up some time when I couldn’t decide what to watch next. As for recommendations for this month, Knives Out, The Mitchells vs. The Machines and The Invisible. If you don’t mind a massive trigger warning and gut-wrenching gorefest, The Sadness is a decent choice as well.

TV

  • Another Me (2019)
  • Archive 81 (2022, Review)
  • Falling Into Your Smile (2021)
  • Bullsh*t The Game Show (2022)

Currently watching: Yes I Do (Season 3), Who’s The Murderer (Season 7), Gypsy, Falling in Love With a Scientist, Infinity and Beyond

Looking at the TV list, it sure feels like eons ago that I finished Another Me at the first half of the month. Probably because the TV series had a lot of issues for the most part and hit a whole new level of melodrama that started bothering me. The ending did kind of redeem itself a little though. The film version which I have yet to see did get lots of praise so I will hopefully watch it at some point.

With that said, Archive 81 is a cliffhanger ending and cancelled Netflix series which is somewhat of a pity since it is pretty good. Netflix did add Falling Into Your Smile which is a Chinese drama that I had my eye on last year but its from a channel which geo-locked the series when I wanted to watch it. Highly recommend. This might just be the series for me to get back into some form of TV binge for the Chinese dramas since I am so behind on it.

Games

  • Erica
  • Football Game

A light gaming month to say the least. Both of these games were fairly short in content. Erica is an FMV game which is basically an interactive film with 4 endings running at around 2 hours per run. Considering that I didn’t do the run again and did some research and think the ending I got was the good one, I just left it at that. The second game, Football Game is a short point and click game which is a little bit laborous with little favors and tasks which all comes down to a deeper story for the thriller as it came to a rather vague but depressing ending. I will try to get a review up for these two over at Game Warp but its a daunting since game reviews have fallen into the abyss for myself.

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for this Adventures and What’s Up for April 2022.
Hope you enjoyed! Let me know if you’ve been up to some exciting stuff.

TV Binge: Archive 81 (Season 1, 2022)

Archive 81 (Season 1, 2022)

Creator: Rebecca Sonnenshine

Cast: Mamoudou Athie, Dina Shihabi, Evan Jonigkeit, Julia Chan, Ariana Neal, Matt McGorry, Martin Donovan, Kate Eastman, Charlie Hudson III, Kristin Griffith, Eden Marryshow, Georgina Haig

An archivist hired to restore a collection of tapes finds himself reconstructing the work of a filmmaker and her investigation into a dangerous cult. – IMDB

Based on the podcast of the same name, Archive 81 follows an archivist Dan (Mamoudou Athie) hired to a secluded building to restore a collection of tapes left behind by a college filmmaker Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi) who moves into the Visser building hoping to capture the lives of the residents but also look for her biological mother but ends up realizing that that the building’s history is a lot more sinister and starts to investigate leading her to discover a cult.

Due to the nature of the show which dives from the present day with Dan and the past via the tape restoration and his process of watching it, the film story unfolds on a parallel. The writing is what truly shines in this series as it crafts both sides very effectively both in terms of the primary mystery element but also having the ability to craft a tense and sinister vibe throughout as it captures the isolation of Dan as he discovers his own side of the mystery as odd occurrences take place and the help of his friend (Matt McGorry) as an outside resource. Much like Melody Pendras who starts to gradually feel more and more of the cult that surrounds her through the strange residents that live there. The sense of danger and insecurity within the building is constructed incredibly well. The use of the VHS grainy element reminding that it is still an image that is being watched does a good job of pulling in and out of this parallel worlds of the past and present especially when it feels like its just watching two sides of a story and forgetting the time element.

While there aren’t any big name actors in the cast, probably the most familiar being Matt McGorry for his role in Orange is the New Black way back in Season 1 (I think) and he has gone on to do some other roles over the years, the main cast revolves around Mamoudou Athie and Dina Shihabi playing as Dan and Melody respectively. They both do a pretty decent job for what their role needs to deliver. Perhaps the supporting characters and their odd personalities delivers more although some of it does go a little overboard at times. Luckily, the show does only focus on a few main characters of the Visser building while Dan’s side focuses mostly around a few characters as well. The events craft a lot more of the atmosphere than the characters involved since the sounds and eerie and bizarre situations and the fear of being caught is what brings out most of the effective tense atmosphere. The characters’ interactions and encounters do bring up a lot of mystery and questions that slowly get revealed in the final episodes.

Overall, Archive 81 is pretty good. Its gripping and tense and the mystery is done really well. The angle and the twist also works pretty effectively. The tone and sound design and setting all add to the mystery much like the characters themselves. Unfortunately, the show does end on something of a cliffhanger and wasn’t renewed for a second season. A pity really since it would be interesting to see where it would have headed if it had the opportunity.

TV Binge: Deadly Class (Season 1, 2019)

Deadly Class (Season 1, 2019)

Creator: Miles Orion Feldsott & Rick Remender

Cast: Benedict Wong, Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, Maria Gabriela de Faria, Luke Tennie, Liam James, Taylor Hickson, Jack Gillett, Tom Stevens, Michel Duval, Sean Depner, Olivia Cheng

A coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of late 1980s counterculture, which follows a disillusioned teen recruited into a storied high school for assassins. – IMDB

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Remender and Wesley Craig, Deadly Class is set in the 1980s revolving around a hidden private academy called King’s Dominion which trains those skilled with assassin abilities, honing their unique and individual skills. Its with this that Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth), who is on the run for allegedly burning down the orphanage he lived in that he is recruited by Master Lin (Benedict Wong) with a little help from his trusted student Saya (Lana Condor). Not from an elite dangerous order, Marcus finds himself not truly fitting in except for a group of misfits at the school as he navigates through this new environment and embraces his own capabilities as new dangers start targeting both the school and himself personally.

Deadly Class is an interesting existence. It embraces and integrates its comic book roots as it does add in these animated sequences especially when recalling the past of the key characters with this group of friends that has bonded together due to different issues. Their back stories help explain the motives of their characters. The comic book elements down to the whole cinematographic elements of the show gives its a lot of style whether its the character designs or King’s Dominion. The whole tone of the show blends well together and is visually appealing for the most part, capturing both the environment of the school but also the grimy outside world that exists which polishes them as they go on their own “missions”.

The tone and plot point can be a little off-putting as the high school drama for the most part. Especially by the middle of Season 1 when Marcus, Maria and Saya have this very wishy washy sort of love triangle that gets a little frustrating to watch as these three take a turn in their character arcs. Much like most series, when things go bad, everything else is going bad at the same time so its all goes a little crazy which is intriguing to watch how it all unfolds since it adds in other elements that help build up the world but also adds in some annoying bits that seem beside the point especially since Marcus is a character with his own issues that also seem rather easily manipulated into certain situations. With that said, the best parts of the show is the action and assassin oriented bits when each of these characters do work together or go into some outing together to achieve something. The danger and the classes do make it all the more intriguing to navigate but at the same time, it somehow does feel like the angle being this unique school gets lost in the bigger plot. Thats not to say that the enemy isn’t decent. For the most part, its the typical mentally unstable sort of character coming for some kind of revenge but there are some outside forces that are targeting the school as well. The two together works well enough.

Looking at the cast itself, everyone fits their role fairly well. Benjamin Wadsworth plays Marcus fairly well. It does capture that teen angst and inner struggle, considering the show is mostly about him. The standout of the show absolutely goes to Benedict Wong as Master Lin who is a tough headmaster of King’s Dominion but also done in such a well-balanced way. Much like its great to see Lana Condor as Saya to be playing this Japanese yakuza’s daughter who is a femme fatale in training with her motorcycle and her katana in hand. Much like Maria portrayed by Maria Gabriela de Faria whose character is on the more frustrating side but does have a lot of ups and downs but her assassin look is really great.

Overall, Deadly Class is a pretty fun ride for its first season. The premise is pretty original and isn’t quite like other teen dramas especially with the school for assassins setting. Sure, there’s a few things that I wasn’t particularly happy about but it did have some pretty decent style. Its a little sad to see that after the great foundation it set up and the cliffhanger ending that it was cancelled for season 2.

My Adventures & What’s Up – March 2022

Weekly Adventures – March 2022

Nothing much happened in March. March basically included a lot of cleaning and tidying. I did work on some of those “2022 Upcoming Plans”, one of which is I’d say 80% done at this point. Since I haven’t been super vocal about being pregnant or sharing my experiences despite the blog slowing down a whole lot. The goal I’m talking about for this year to move the office and set up the nursery is the only thing that is happening as the due date gets closer. However, that’s personal stuff and other than acknowledging it quickly, I don’t want to post up any photos of it since its still a work in progress. My adventures basically has to do with being pregnant which is not exactly exciting to talk about other than my own experience of it. The other part is mostly job and then my constant contemplation on eating healthier and really starting to miss some of the stuff that I’ve cut out of my diet to be healthier. That’s basically it in that department. Oh right, and I also just turned 36! Isn’t that exciting, right?

Now moving on to more fun things like the next part, What’s Up for the past month!

What’s Up – March 2022

Books

  • The Handmaid’s Tale (Review)
  • Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) (Review)

Currently reading: The Magician’s Nephew (re-read), The Girl On The Train

Finally some progress in the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year! It was a slow start but now I’ve been motivated to move from one book to the next and get those reviews up as soon as I finish to keep things rolling. Scarlet was a really fun read. I guess taking a break from YA novels was a great move since I did appreciate the easier reads. The basic system now is alternating between YA books and older books. I should start adding classics to it but it will probably happen later this year.

Movies

  • Time (2021, Review)
  • Ms. Pat: Y’All Wanna Hear Something Crazy (2022)
  • Piranha 3D (2010)
  • American Girl (2021, Review)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022, Review)
  • Great White (2021)
  • The Bay (2012)
  • Catherine Cohen: The Twist?… She’s Gorgeous (2022)
  • Crawl (2019, rewatch Review)
  • Jaws (1975, rewatch)
  • Secretary (2002)
  • Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)
  • In The Cut (2003)

As Movies and Tea focuses on the next season of production, a lot of these movies are a part of that. In a perfect world, I did want to get at least one more double feature out before this recap post went up but oh well, what can we do? Movies was a decent month. Other than my not so happy outing with Piranha 3D, everything was pretty decent overall. Some was a little disappointing like Great White, a few surprises like The Bay, some exceeded expectations like Time and then some lived up to expectations (in a good way) like Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. It did feel great to catch up with some older films that I have heard great things about like Secretary and finally returned to watch a Meg Ryan film. If you have been here in the earlier days, I really love Meg Ryan and have been wanting to go through all her films but Netflix is usually a bit thin on that front.

TV

  • Love Under The Full Moon (2021)
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 7, 2015)
  • The King’s Avatar (2019 rewatch)
  • Is It Cake? (Season 1, 2022)
  • Light The Night (Part 3, 2022)
  • Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022 Review)
  • Fresh Fried & Crispy (Season 1, 2021)

Currently watching: Who’s The Murderer (Season 7), Another Me

Looking at the list, I didn’t even realize how much TV I have watched. To be fair, I had 4 episodes left of Love Under The Full Moon when I started the month so not exactly hard to complete. The King’s Avatar was a rewatch basically because I think its a great choice as background content but also a great choice as a kickoff for my podcast concept which I promise is going into production soon. A little tired of my own procrastination. Just overthinking the whole thing at this point. Highlight of this month goes to Light The Night Part 3, the anticipation and wait was pretty worth it. Netflix will never see this but if they do, please don’t split a complete series into 3 parts. Its really pointless. Bridgerton Season 2 was also a bingeworthy watch considering I watched it over a weekend.

Games

  • Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master!
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes
  • A Memoir Blue

Currently playing: Bloodroots

Even gaming had a lot of progress. I did play The Drum Master for the longest time but finally stopped when I hit a bug that kept shutting off the game on its own. A Memoir Blue is a one sitting simplistic narrative game that was pretty heartfelt and fits the Game Pass really well. The highlight is definitely House Of Ashes which I streamed shared story mode with my friend BrandelSavage. We do plan to play it again since there seems to be a few other paths to explore. I will also replay it on my own. Maybe on stream, who knows. I do want to start streaming which was also on my goals for this year especially since my office is moved, the only issue is that its now in open space so need to reconsider when to stream.

I guess this whole recap explains why I haven’t had adventures considering how abundant everything is. Its been pretty fun overall. April will be crazy work phase so expect a big drop in the next month although I also have some planning to do for this next month to get things ready in advance as much as I can.

Cute Kitty Pic

That’s it for this Adventures and What’s Up for March 2022!
What have you been up to?

TV Binge: Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022)

Bridgerton (Season 2, 2022)

Creator: Chris Van Dusen

Cast: Jonathan Bailey, Claudia Jessie, Julie Andrews (voice), Simone Ashley, Charithra Chandran, Luke Thompson, Luke Newton, Nicola Coughlan, Ruth Gemmell, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, Kathryn Drysdale, Phoebe Dynevor, Calam Lynch

Wealth, lust, and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency-era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family. – IMDB

Following the steamfest that is the first season of Bridgerton as it followed eldest sister of the Bridgerton family as she becomes Duchess and learns from Duke Hastings how to get in touch with her sexuality and sensuality and also helps him embrace his past so that they can move on better in the future, Season 1 comes to a pretty decent close and doesn’t have the appearance of the Duke as many already know since the real life actor has other projects so basically has been phased out with just the Duchess, played by Phoebe Dynevor making a few appearances to guide her older brother Anthony as he looks for his wife. You can check out my review of Season 1 HERE.

Season 2 dials things down on the steamy department quite a bit and Anthony’s story is one very similar to that of Pride and Prejudice and the familiar despise to love sort of story between Anthony and the previously disgraced Lady Mary’s family as they return to debut the younger sister, Edwina into society and find her a husband. Trained perfectly by her older sister Kate, Edwina is basically what Anthony is looking for in criteria as he searches for a wife to fulfill his duties as the eldest son and the Lord of the household and not for love. Right off the bat, Kate forms a strong prejudice against him based on a conversation he overhears at one of the balls and strongly goes against his pursuing Edwina however at the same time, their hatred and constant brush-up with each other creates strong feelings between them that soon turn into love. Season 2 is basically their journey for this season to their marriage at the end. Its much more familiar and tame than the first one but it has a lot more substance especially for Austen fans as Kate is a headstrong woman and she manages to bond well with Eloise, who reluctantly has entered society as well. It gets a little wishy-washy in parts but they do create a nice contrast between Kate and Edwina building on their sisterhood and their family background but also have that nice chemistry between Kate and Anthony that develops pretty nicely.

Bridgerton isn’t just about the love triangle between Kate, Edwina and Anthony. In fact, the story extends further into that Lady Whistledown plot where now, as the audience for the big finale of Season 1 was revealed to us and its just a trek for this character (not saying the name in case you haven’t seen the first season) to hide her tracks as Eloise is once again enraptured by trying to track down this character which leads her to another side of town, meeting people who are opinionated the way she would like to be. Talking about that, I do still love that Lady Whistledown is voiced by Julie Andrews. Lady Whistledown’s facade has a lot more at stake especially since this character isn’t only a part of scandal that the ton love to read but also has stepped on the wrong toes like the Queen who is also adamant on tracking the identity behind this character who constantly challenges her decisions. The final piece of the plot is the story with the Featheringtons as the household of women and girls wait for the new man of the house to show up which creates an interesting sort of side story and if anything builds up on Lady Featherington’s character the most.

Season 2 Bridgerton is much better than the first one. It takes on a different tone and while the material itself feels familiar, it fits so well into this society and how we come know and love this sort of Austen-like scenario. Not to mention that the acting is more refined with all the characters also having more substance to them as they tie up loose ends from the first and the Bridgertons, Lady Danbury and the Sharmas all have some really human moments where their somewhat of a demise separates them from the ton but also makes them embrace each other in some fun. If you’ve watched it, you know which scene I’m talking about. As a final note, I’m hoping that Lady Danbury hangs out for more of these seasons because she is a fantastic character, one of the best of the series as she’s filled with personality and guidance. Overall, a much welcomed step up in season 2.

TV Binge: Hellbound (Season 1, 2021)

Hellbound (Season 1, 2021)

Creators: Sang-ho Yeon & Gyu-seok Choi

Cast: Ah-in Yoo, Hyun-joo Kim, Jeong-min Park, Jin-a Won, Ik-june Yang, Do-yoon Kim, Shin-rock Kim, Kyung-soo Ryu, Re Lee

People hear predictions on when they will die. When that time comes, a death angel appears in front of them and kills them. – IMDB

Running at a swift 6 episodes, Hellbound presents a story circling society, belief, religion, cult and human nature. This South Korean series breaks its story down into two parts. The first sets itself at the start of these events as a society gradually is exposed to these predictions of death which soon is believed to be the consequences of sins by that individual. The first part focuses on the police follow the trail of these mysterious deaths from these hellbound gigantors that come and go in their predicted time, they soon lead to a priest of a small religious organization, played by Ah In-Yoo, previously known for his main lead in Netflix zombie film #Alive (review). With the final moments of the first half, the second half heads into a few years after this and how the country has dealt with this situation and the huge growth of this religious society that has spread to many people turning to religion for their salvation however this happens to lead to an unexpected prediction that groups up a bunch of people who hasn’t fallen for this religious cult as they try to reveal to the world the truth behind them.

Hellbound has an interesting premise to be sure and it runs at only six episodes which is one of the main reasons for its bingeworthiness. Its easy to consume and makes it pretty well-paced. However, the series does have some deceiving moments especially with these hellbound creatures that pop up which never truly get a resolution as to what this death angel and creatures truly represent in the end game. However, it takes the story and moves it away from this more supernatural element and turns into a human nature, society and belief angle which shows a lot of the ugliness of a cult taking advantage of their followers. It turns into more of a crime investigation in the second half that takes a different turn in events. It takes a more sentimental turn of events as well with the last hellbound prediction especially with how the previous predictions met their end in a violent manner.

Looking at the characters, its a pretty decent cast whether you look at the first or the second part which has some overlapping characters but takes a bigger switch in who is involved in this whole scheme of things. The characters themselves have some complexity as it wraps up in their back story and their stance on the whole situation regarding this organization and afterwards, the cult. There are a few twists added in. With strong topics about belief in society and the extent that some people will go to fight for those beliefs, it does end up having some very extreme moments as it looks at this grey area where belief can lead to good with good intentions and also the complete opposite of using it to manipulate the population to their benefit. This creates the extremities in also how characters are viewed and the desperation of others who have put their trust and faith in the wrong people, adding both drama and tension.

Overall, Hellbound explores some pretty serious topics in this fantasy crime drama series. Its swift pacing and the clear cut execution of its story is definitely some of the pros of this series. The first 3 episodes does feel a lot slower in comparison to its last 3 episodes but it has to do with different characters and a different purpose to set up the situation. Hellbound might not be quite what anyone expected and it might take some time to get pulled into its series but give it some time and it does get better as the plot thickens.

TV Binge: Fishbowl Wives (Season 1, 2022)

Fishbowl Wives (Season 1, 2022)

Director: Matsuyama Hiroaki & Namiki Michiko

Cast: Ryoko Shinohara, Takanori Iwata, Masanobu Ando, Kyoko Hasegawa, Wakana Matsumoto, Shizuka Nakamura, Saori Seto, Anna Ishii, Hadekazu Mashima, Shingo Fujimori, Atsuhiro Inukai, Yuki Kubota

In a luxury apartment tower, six different women in unhappy marriages end up crossing the line into infidelity. – IMDB

Fishbowl Wives dives into the married lives of various women in a pricey high rise where the higher the condo, the more expensive and wealthy the family is considered. Each of these couples struggle with their own issues which eventually lead them on the path of infidelity or in one case, pondering it. Based on the manga Kingyo Tsuma, the series is formed like an anthology where there is one central plot with the more successful and popular couple in the high rise penthouse who runs away from her abusive husband, giving up a life of luxury for a calmer and respected life at a goldfish store. The other stories of the other women are framed within their own individual episode. The structure itself creates an imbalance, leaving out a lot of actual substance for building these characters for the various women and leaving it with their decision to choose infidelity. With these stories also comes a lot of steamy sex scenes. Giving up their depth on the other characters, it does create space to elaborate on the main storyline revolving around Sakura (Ryoko Shinohara), her abusive husband Takuya (Ando Masanobu) and the goldfish shop owner Haruto (Takanori Iwata).

While the storyline is fairly thin overall, it does look at many different types of marriage especially highlighting the characteristics and values embedded in the Japanese (or maybe even some more traditional Asian) society. It looks at the different dynamics that exist within these marriages which essentially create the issues. While it seems in some cases a fairly ridiculous point for infidelity, it all dials down to the main point that some marriages might fade or change in their priorities or perhaps, all in all the lack of communication between these couples. Some of these affairs focused are truly hilarious to watch and a bit self-inflicted when the final episode shares all the end game of each of these couples. In some other cases, it also is a twist in the whole infidelity plot. It also brings in the whole concept of whether the one you marry is your “twin flame” as the eccentric Feng Shui lady in the high rise tells them seemingly leading them to these different affairs. There’s no doubt that the stand-out one that borders ridiculous and self-inflicted but a tad hilarious is the episode The Lunchbox Lady.

The central plot is where the main story does lie leaving many points to ponder in the whole situation. What makes it very respectable is the story itself especially revolving the growing bond between Haruto and Sakura is very comfortable to watch with a lot of very warm and romantic scenes without involving a lot of sex scenes. It gives their relationship a certain foundation that eventually comes to light a deeper story to the whole scenario. It shares a much more equal and balanced relationship compared to the marriage that Sakura escapes which is controlling and physically and mentally abusive. The whole fishbowl and fish brings in a lot of the analogy to her own life. The key here being that Ryoko Shinohara and Takanori Iwata are relatively good in their roles. I don’t watch any Japanese TV series so this is probably my first one so I’m not exactly sure whether this is below or above normal standard for this sort of show however, while their chemistry wasn’t always great and sometimes felt a tad awkward, it did manage to build up as it went along and the dialogue and their connection also managed to be pretty decent. Ando Masanobu playing Takuya does a good job as well since his character is pretty despicable right from the start and feels a bit more conflicted as it starts spiraling to the finale.

Overall, Fishbowl Wives is not exactly a great series. It lacks depth and character growth for the most part. It plays around with the concept of infidelity in marriage and does cover some interesting stories about marriage itself that may contribute or justify these choices (whether or not you accept it will probably also add or minus to the enjoyment of the series). These stories do reflect in its own way the societal values towards marriage and divorce in the Japanese society. However, if there’s anything to give it praise for selling itself in the steamy market, the show is pretty heavy on the steamy sex scenes and for the most part, they are filmed pretty well. In fact, not only those scenes are done well, there is a pretty decent use of cinematography overall. Not exactly the best first venture into Japanese TV series but it was pretty average, some good and some bad elements.

What’s Up & Adventures – February 2022

Welcome to the February 2022 What’s Up and Adventures! To be honest, February 2022 wasn’t all that eventful. I spent A LOT of time doing overtime for work like every year and it had a few winter storms in Montreal so freezing rain and snow and all the fun winter stuff that we get. Aside from that, its just been the basic February month as I slowly get back into the groove of things. Next month might have some fun stuff in the planning and some of the those goals to cross of my list from the beginning of the year so I’ll have updates on those then.

With that said, two little things to talk about for February 2022 Adventures (feel free to add air quotes to Adventures) since it wasn’t exactly anything super crazy but still, its something…

Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger

February 1st was Chinese New Year. This year is the Year of the Tiger which means its also my Chinese zodiac year (which isn’t exactly a good thing if you are superstitious). I had the usual decorations and got a lovely bouquet of flowers. However, Chinese New Year wasn’t exactly a great time as well since we got some bad news right before the New Year with news of my grandmother’s passing (non-pandemic related, just age).

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022

Ultimate Decades Blogathon is going on right now as it enters its second week. This year its featuring selections of films from myself and my fantastic co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and a wonderful line-up of guest entries with their choices of releases in a year ending in 2. The entries are rather expansive with one of them over a century old.

If you missed the entries, you can check out the list updated daily HERE.

That wraps up the Adventures portion of this post. Let’s move on to the What’s Up February 2022!

What’s Up – February 2022

Books

Currently reading: The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Hate U Give

Finally started up my reading of 2022 as I started off with the first book on my TBR pile of physical books sitting on my bookshelf, in an effort to finish up all those books this year or at least make some good progress with it. I haven’t seen the TV series for The Handmaiden’s Tale but I did pick up this book when the show was pretty popular. Its just never filtered through any of the streaming services so I haven’t caught up with it. I’m still fairly early in the book but its pretty decent so far.

As for The Hate U Give, I honestly just started it up because it was what I had on Google Play Books while I was waiting for an appointment. Its pretty decent as well. I have watched the film but never got around to reviewing it although I did like it quite a bit.

Films

  • Wild Beasts (1984)
  • The Girl Next Door (2004, Review)
  • The Tinder Swindler (2022, Review)
  • The Hustle (2019, Review)
  • Falling For Figaro (2021, Review)
  • Arachnophobia (1990)
  • Letters to Juliet (2010, rewatch, Review)
  • Tall Girl 2 (2022)
  • Love and Leashes (2022, Review)
  • Resident Evil: Degeneration (2008)
  • Resident Evil: Damnation (2012)
  • Ali Wong: Don Wong (2022)
  • Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017)
  • Into The Beat (2020)
  • Step Sisters (2018)
  • Porco Rosso (1992, Review)
  • Deep Rising (1998)
  • Drug War (2012)

I’m actually quite impressed with how I’ve moved forward with movie watching this month. A good portion of it is for an upcoming of Movies and Tea which is very early in production right now. However, I did start back up my double features originally starting them off in alphabetical order with a focus on teen and comedies since last month (although I think I forgot to mention it) but this month, its fallen away from it as movie watching intentions have changed a little.

With that said, my biggest recommendations would be Korean rom-com Love and Leashes and the creature feature Deep Rising. Both films are two that I’ve immensely enjoyed this past month.

For March, I’m actually thinking of working through some of the Netflix Asian film selections so I’m compiling a list to catch up on some of the titles before they eventually disappear from Netflix.

TV

  • Shining For One Thing (2022)
  • All Of Us Are Dead (Season 1, 2022) Review
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 4, 2012)
  • Catching Killers (Season 2, 2022)
  • Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (2021 rewatch, Review)
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 5, 2013)
  • Fishbowl Wives (Season 1, 2022)
  • Luke Cage (Season 1, 2016)
  • Rupaul’s Drag Race (Season 6, 2014)
  • Iron Fist (Season 1, 2017)
  • The Defenders (Season 1, 2017)

Currently binging: The Wolf

Oh boy, has TV been great! This month started off strong for a good half of the month with Chinese drama Shining For One Thing which was such a wonderful series that was not exactly what the trailer was but at the same time, added so many cool elements to it and some points to ponder. Much like Korean zombie series All of Us Are Dead which had some flaws but was a pretty fun one as well. Season 2 of Catching Killers is also a great one if you like the Netflix crime docuseries. The other part of the month went to sporadic watching of jumping back into Rupaul’s Drag Race for a few seasons and then with the Netflix Marvel series leaving Netflix in March, I tried to at least get “phase 1” (as I call it, not sure if that’s how its separated) ending with The Defenders watched in the final week of February. I’m leaving out Fishbowl Wives because that TV binge is coming up very soon so you can just read it then.

Games

  • Code Vein (unfinished)
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope (Shared Story mode)

Currently playing: Bloodroots

In terms of games, I tried out Code Vein before it left Xbox Game Pass. I do admit that it is a lot easier to get into as a souls game however, still the learning curve is quite high since there’s a lot to ponder. Much deeper than the normal games that I play. I have been streaming co-op with my friend BrandelSavage on Twitch and trying out the Shared Story mode for The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope. We played through it once with a rather unsuccessful result of killing almost everyone so we are currently doing the second run of it. There’s probably one more stream of it left this coming Friday. You can see both our perspectives since I do stream my perspective over on my own channel. The Dark Pictures Anthology is pretty great if you like horror stories and it’ll be nice to see what other horror genres they plan to do in the planned 8 episode run that they have especially since Episode 4 is supposed to be released sometime this year.

That’s it for this February 2022 Adventures and What’s Up!
What have you been up to?
What are you reading/watching/playing/binging?