Why Arrow needs to stop the current storyline of Laurel

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It’s become impossible for me to enjoy Arrow since the recent addition of Laurel’s ‘drink and drugs’ abuse storyline and it’s such a shame in a series which has quickly become one of my favourites.

As a summary, after the death of Tommy, Laurel has become addicted to anti-depressants and is drinking heavily. She is then charged with a DUI which sparks the concern of her Father. But I feel no empathy for her character nor do I feel Katie Cassidy (the actress) really develops that role to a point where I feel that she needs help. Yes she is drinking heavily but there is not one scene where she looks helpless or like she is on the brink of some sort of emotional breakdown. The script is becoming very drab and bland between Laurel and her Father who takes her (unknowingly) to an AA meeting to where she quickly snaps saying she doesn’t need any help. This is where I had to turn off and stop watching.

i would like to hear your response on this matter. Is this storyline really necessary?

Almost Human (John “Elton John” Kennex)

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To me, Karl Urban is Americas answer to Jason Statham. He plays the same action hero in every film he’s been in. With almost Human I feel like he hasn’t diversified his role that much. Yet I feel as if I’m drawn in by his good acting style and he ability to be such a likeable character. I really wasn’t expecting that!

Almost Human is set in a semi-dystopian society where crime has escalated in recent years. Human androids are paired with every cop to improve their odds of keeping the streets free from criminals and to improve their life expectancy in the field. John, the main protagonist, is a human cop who was badly injured during a firefight with a terrorist group and subsequently now has an android leg. now two Years later he is back on the force and ready to begin where he left off.

First off I want to talk about the character John. He has a deep hatred for androids and he prefers old-school humans. Even to the point where he throws his android out of the car. He mimics the old style of guys these days who prefer a good old book instead of a kindle, and I like that in a world where everyone can see the benefits of androids. To him I guess it’s diluting the spirit of man in the police force. Their cold, calculated formulas crushes his risky and emotionally driven attitude. In episode one, we delve into this hatred a lot and the reasoning behind it, and we begin to get the impression he will grumpy all the way through the season. One of the defining attributes of John is his compassion. The scene whereby he has to communicate with a child about the whereabouts of his mother is really well communicated and provides a glimpse into his many different sides.

However, episode two really brings in his acceptance towards Dorian, a “defective” android with an emotive personality similar to that of a human. Dorian is the line between Android and Human. He has a human response to other androids and finds the racism displayed by some people incredibly offence. It provides John with a partner he likes that has all the tech he needs. I think Dorian wants to embrace humanity more than embrace his android side since it is much more complex and rewarding. But I feel this needs to be expanded more, and the racism of robots to become more of a problem.

It’s interesting that the best dialogue of every episodes happen in Johns car. What really sold me was the talk of death and the afterlife in episode two. John has some great lines about how humans are told that they go to a better place when they die for “comfort”. It is a deep conversation that leads back to the day that John lost his partner and how he never visited his son to tell him all about his hero father. I hope for some more conversations like this!

Since I feel like this kind of show has been done many times, the themes of a dystopian society and accelerated crime rate with the rise of technology has become cliche, (Judge Dredd, Bladerunner) so it’s important to create a new and innovative way to present this. The friendship between Dorian and John is the most appealing part of this show and the ethical debates on using androids is fantastic. Each self-contained episode is fantastically written with good storylines, which are gripping and new. The third episode with the hostages is one of my favourites and felt as if it could of been spread along a few episodes. It feels like a real, american action film converted into a TV Show.

The special effects are well integrated and one of the highlights of the show. the establishing shots in the city look beautiful, props are used generously when needed and the budget seems sparing. I find that I forget they are even special effects most of the time and don’t even question the quality as I do with most shows.

The ethical and emotional debate with androids is good, but done better by the swedish show “Real Humans” (Äkta människor). It has immersive themes, beautiful visual metaphors and a realistic universe on the brink of dystopia. I believe it is more innovative than Almost Human but doesn’t have the universal market that Almost Human has. The money invested is much higher and bigger on a big, american TV channel and means it can get a universal market.

My friend is always talking about how female characters are awfully written in TV and Film and I have tried to test this hypothesis. Captain Maldonado is a female captain of the police force but I feel as if the character is not fully explored. I think a storyline outside of the office needs to happen and perhaps this makes her a stronger and more likeable character. This isn’t about just placing a female into a predominantly male role, it’s about making the woman emotionally strong and just as capable as the male. BUT there is a distinction so just putting a strong female in “for the feminists” is shitty idea. I need some more knowledge before I get really down to the nitty gritty. If you need clarification on a good female lead, watch continuum. You’ll understand.

In conclusion, Almost Human is beautifully written, elegantly presented and visually fantastic. Its drawbacks are the familiar themes, awful comedy two-and-fro (I just find it cringey) and the lack of strong, female leads. The main storyline needs much more development and a big split between androids and humans could be on the way which I would enjoy (depending on how it is executed). If you stick around the show will get much more deeper in its story and ethical dilemmas and I know it’s going to be around for quite a few seasons.

7.5/10 for me. Cheers!

Arrow (and how everyone is fitter than me)

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It’s no lie to say that I’m not as fit as i could be. But it’s a lie to say that I’m ok with it. I started running a lot recently to try and take control of my body issues.

But then I watched Arrow and realise I will never look as good as 90% of the actors on the show and gave up. It’s eye candy for the girl and boys! It’s incredible how everyone in that show is some kind of bodybuilder or model (not that it’s a bad thing obviously). I even googled “Stephen Amell” just for a picture for the blog and the first section is called “body”.

Firstly, I noticed some reoccurring scenes throughout season 1 and 2 and by God if this isn’t a drinking game it damn well should be.

  • Drink everytime Oliver or Diggle have their shirts off
  • Drink everytime Oliver is working out
  • Drink everytime Quentin Lance insults Oliver
  • Drink everytime Lance has his chest hair on show (it’s weirdly entrancing)
  • Drink everytime there is a flashback

As you can see, sometimes they have a habit of keeping their format and it’s all so slightly predictable.

I am a fan of Arrow and i believe this new “Christopher Nolan” type realistic universe narrative is perfect for reinventing old hero biopics. It’s worked great for the movies but does it translate well into TV series?

At this time I have just watched season 2 episode 6, so a lot of my ranting will primarily be from recollecting knowledge of this season. It focusses mainly on the destruction left by bomb in the glades and the citizens outrage that projects itself onto big corporations in Starling city – and by proxy – Oliver Queen. I do like the ethical debates between the poverty line but the first few episodes focussed solely on this and became slightly arbitrary in content. I think the downpoint episode for me was when the arms dealer “Mayor” was introduced. He is easily forgettable and served no real purpose until the end. We can also throw the Bronze Tiger in the mix of bad guys I don’t give a shit about. I really don’t like when TV shows introduce a bad-guy, only for him to be seen in a self-contained episode that will never branch out into further narratives. I recently read an article about how Loki is the only good Villain in Marvel movies simply because he isn’t just bad through and through, he has a complex personality which lends itself to making decisions not based on how evil he can be. I would like to see an antagonist like this, and the only real comparison is Malcolm Merlyn who was killed in Season 1. A main opposing force keeps an audience thrilled and in between the episodes where the main plot is subsided, viewers won’t be more inclined to leave. The only hint of Mayor coming back is when he is captured by some guy with a bag on his head and injected with some sort of sirum The problem with Arrow  is the villain reveals himself within 30 seconds of being introduced, which is a major problem. It doesn’t seem to be able to balance secrets very well and it cycles between slowly giving information in the flashbacks and then giving us everything in the present. It’s not a major issue but one I would like to see addressed in the future.

The introduction of the Black Canary is vital in my opinion. It has stopped the narrative from getting to stale and gives the writers endless possibilities to dive into the storyline. Even the flashbacks now include her and it has improved the show ten fold. The sudden appearance of the League of Assassins got my extremely excited and the possibility of Ra’s-Al-Ghul showing up is like crack to me. Don’t fuck it up! All I want to know is, when will  Slade and Shado be reintroduced into the present?!

This series is ripe with good narrative, great characters and fantastic choreography. It balances well between action and dialogue with the script being mostly emotionally driven. Episode 6 is my highlight so far as it leaves Starling City in favor of Moscow for a much needed break from the politics within the city. Oliver’s progression between fitting in with the world and being a superhero is far more fascinating then first thought. Season 1 is all about his integration into the world after being on the Island and season 2 focusses on his progression in terms of justice and “the right thing to do”.  I can’t really fault Arrow too much as it ticks all the boxes for a good TV show. I’ve loved it since the start and Smallville fans like me can instantly see a real connection between the two. I wish it every success in the future (although I know it wont need it).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (and why It thinks I’m an Idiot)

Firstly a metaphor. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is like that kid in high school who’s mum doesn’t let them do anything mildly dangerous. Im sure if the mum could, she would cover him in cotton wool and force him to stay away from busy roads and sharp objects. But everybody likes him because he’s not particularly offensive. This is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; It never really does anything adventurous it’s just another student in a large high school of cool kids and smart kids.

End of metaphor because im going to show you why I HATE THAT SAFE KID.

Episode one, opening scene, and a kid is staring into the store window like it’s a candy store. Oh look superheroes from the Marvel universe isn’t that a nice homage to the avengers! No. Because this isn’t a nice tie-in, Its a promotional tool to get kids to buy the figures.

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It’s so blindly obvious it’s insulting. I feel like I’m being shown that “SMOKE” advert over and over. “BUY OUR TOYS. GIVE US MONEY.” But that’s been Marvel for a while now. They commission movies based on how much money they can make of passive audiences. The only reason they made the new Spiderman is because they can make three more and coax him into making a cameo in the Avengers movie. Holy shit I can’t even imagine how much money that cash cow is bringing in.

I digress. The stereotypical broken family with a despondent son is thankfully interrupted from their incredibly boring conversation by a big explosion in the building not too far away. “Wow the dad is actually a superhero!”. I think he’s as relatable as a plank of wood personally but let’s not judge too much, he’s a single dad after all and that makes the audience empathetic! He saves a woman from the burning building and runs off to disguise his identity. Get used to Mr. Plank I’m guessing he is going to be a main (sigh) character. However, a sexy young woman called Sky knows who he is (you never really know how) and tries to convince him to become a superhero because she wants the public to know what happens in the world without some sort of censoring from S.H.I.E.L.D. We later find out she is part of a group called “rising tide” who want to expose S.H.I.E.L.D and she gets kidnapped but I will talk about that later.

Next scene uses the words “package” and “watch your six”  in the first 5 seconds so straight away you can see how much effort the script writers have put into it. Anyway we’re in France and the agent use a silver plate as an X-ray scanner. I SHIT YOU NOT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. A FUCKING PLATE.

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I’m just speechless. through a magical plate he finds this little bag (im guessing that’s the package), fights off some bad guys and escapes from the roof via a rope on a helicopter like a really cheesy 80’s villan. The fight scenes I didn’t mind, couple of choppy edits but I enjoyed it… If it wasn’t for the awful Go Pro footage. It’s like they were given a shit tonne of money just to use their product and in the process ruined the whole scene. In my experience never use Go Pro footage when you’re shooting with such high cost equipment because they will never fit together properly. It’s similar to layering fine food like chicken en croute with Bisto. It ain’t gonna’ make it better if you layer your good shots with your bad shots. How is this analogy working out for you?

Even in this next scene with the agent and Robin from How I Met Your Mother, It shoves information right in your face without you actually getting time to figure it out yourself. Everything is explained via some crappy monologue and that’s just bad storytelling. Then Robin gives you another monologue of what happens in The Avengers – as if none of the audience have ever watched it – and then the big reveal that Agent Coulson isn’t really dead. Let’s just quickly gloss over the fact that he died because that’s not important. Obivously. They pick Mr. Agent to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D and he quickly leaves. A Morgan Freeman impersonator then enters and has the most cheesy one-two lines with Robin.

“Tahiti? He really doesn’t know does he.”

“He can never know”

I WONDER IF HE WILL EVER FIND OUT. IT’S SUCH A MYSTERY.

Further on we meet Fitz and Simons, the stereotypical English geeks who talk gobbeldy gook and are far inferior to everyone else in the agency. They speak some tech words, smash a phone and force me to hit my desk with my head over and over until the shame of being from England starts to become blurry like my vision. This is the furthest I got on the first watch. It’s so unberabley cheesy I couldn’t handle it. Now Im having to watch it again, but I can tear it to shreds so I’m a little more inclined to finish at least the first episode.

Eventually S.H.I.E.L.D kidnap that hot girl who lives in a van (although for some reason has perfect hair and makeup) and interrogates her since she knows who Mr. Plank is. Good Cop Bad Cop is initiated and she lets spill about some “Centipede” project that neither Coulson nor slick hair agent have a clue about. Beaten by a single person with a laptop. Beautiful work gentlemen.

Cut back to Mr. Plank who is again looking at a bill showing us how much trouble he is in. WE GET IT MARVEL HE HAS NO JOB OR MONEY. YOU DON’T NEED TO CONSTANTLY REMIND US. Apparently the talk at the start and the scene in the cafe was just not enough.

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After a quick call he is affirming that the “product works” to some Doctor he reveals the centipede device on his arm is giving him super human strength. Literally 30 seconds after referencing this new project we find out exactly what it is. It’s as if they never want a mystery in this TV series because are tiny brains would get too confused.

Fitz and Simons investigate the burnt out remains of the building to gain clues to how it exploded. In come the bad-ass little robots who are named after the snow white dwarves. I think they are a pretty cool touch but only because they are visually exciting and are not subject to the tedious script that everyone else is. They find a CCTV and some alien object.

Moving on slightly, we see Mr. Plank begging for his job at the factory he used to work at.

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Did you know he doesn’t have a job? Ok just checking.

Anyway he gets angry because the chubby, middle-aged boss won’t accept him back and throws a hissy fit flinging him across the factory floor. Then comes another monlogue by Mr. Plank basically saying he’s a hero and the boss is a bad guy. Seriously Marvel? A normal guy with too much power becomes evil? So cliché.

Remember Sky the woman who is part of “Rising Tide”? Well she actually works for Coulson and it was all a ruse to investigate slick agent guy (or Ward if you prefer). Again, im going to gloss over this since It just baffles me. The CCTV images come in but its distorted so Fitz and Simmons talk gobbeldy gook again and Sky leaves trying to find some GPS signal so they can clean up the image revealing the Dr’s identity.

In the next scene we see Mr. Plank visiting the woman he saved in hospital. The quickest roid rage to nice guy transition i’ve ever seen. The bunch of flowers is the icing on the cake. Look at that nice guy smile!

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Turns out that girl is the Dr who was given the “centipede” gadget by aliens for some innate reason like to cause havok. More talk insues about how he’s a new person and then he jumps out of the window because some how every superhero or villan has to jump out of windows. It’s an unspoken rule.

Back to the plane and the brits unscramble the video feed and some how it’s now 3D. We see another roid raged guy who is arguing with the Dr. about his dosage. The Woman scientist (I havn’t the foggiest if it’s Fitz or Simmons at this point) then explains how the serum in the centipede is much like that of the Super Human formuale tested in the 40’s. Three guesses to what they are referencing here. However this stuff is much more volatile and unstable which caused this guy to explode and set the building on fire. Finally they have solved the mystery! Well done gang!

Mr. Plank shows up again and kidnaps Sky with his kid and they go on a drive to a crowded transtation just so they can delete all of his personal files on all databases, basically rendering him a ghost. It’s convenient that it’s right next to a crowded place, that way if it all goes tits up he can basically hold them all ransom since he is pobably going to explode anyway. S.H.I.E.L.D turn up, he escapes into the train station, has a fight and general shit goes down. Mr. Plank then takes a tumble off a balcony in the station and is face to face with Coulson who tries to reason with him.

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This speech is perhaps one of my favorite parts of the episode. It’s not cliché and gives the audience a welcome relatable look into the man behind the steroids that has been lacking throughout the show. It’s important to have that reflective attitude in the script because it shows intelligent script writing which has been lacking throughout.

“You said if we worked hard, if we did right, we’d have a place. You said it was enough to be a man but there’s better then man! There’s gods… and the rest of us? What are we? They’re giants… we’re what they step on.”

Seconds later he’s shot in the head. It’s the old “build him up so he’s at the turning point of being good again and then kill him” routine. I like this usually because it keeps the audience on their toes, never gives them an opportunity to feel safe but in fact Ward shot a concussion round that neutralises his power. What a copout. Back out when you make a difficult decision that can’t be revisited why don’t you marvel. Well, I guess in the case of Coulson that doesn’t really apply.

The last scene is just to tie up the loose nots, give the kid back to the mum, and general setting up of episode two. I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief – It was all nearly over – then Coulsons car turned into a delorean-esque hovercraft.

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I Just can’t.

To sum it all up, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is safe because it takes all the stereotypes used by cops and superhero’s and geeks of the last 30 years of film and TV and converts it all into one show. The script is dreary and condescending and the fact that it references the Avengers all the time shows that this could not stand on it’s own two feet without the influence of that and Marvel. For kids watching its great, but its demographic research seems messed up by trying to combine an adult show and a childrens show all into one. It’s usually either one or the other but by the fact it’s broadcast at 8PM it’s scarily close to watershed hours. Its main draw are the visuals but that is only because Marvel throw money at the VFX guys like high class strippers. I would take good storytelling over visuals any day. “you can’t polish a turd” comes to mind.

If I ever watch episode 2, I know at very least that It can’t be quite as bad as this.