A Farewell

I’ve seen and followed many blogs that suddenly and abruptly end. For whatever reason the individual posting the blogs just moves on with their life and in a sense I am to. Not because I’m so “above” doing blog posts, but because I have been reading books and watching movies and forgot I had this blog twice in the past year.

Rather than fully forget about this little blog completely and fully move on in life, I decided I’d do a farewell post. I’ll also explain why my focuses were the way they were.

Why do You Have Gay Discussions and Christian discussions?

When you’re part of a very strange minority of gay and christian, it takes up part of your mind more than it should. It mostly comes from the first half of my twenties being in youth ministry and an English major and just having analytical thoughts on both subjects.

How did Movies get Into the Discussion When this was Supposed to be a Book Blog?

I like movies and felt that they’re pretty easy to analyse and are just as entertaining as a book.

What’s With the Lengthy essays? Where did they go?

I did essays because I secretly have a guilty pleasure for them when I can write about a subject I care about or consider important. However as I continued to work on them it slowly set in that I was sometimes doing graduate student level work but significantly more sloppy, not bothering to cite or reference sources, and not even proof reading before publishing the essays to the web.

So I did the smart thing and just decided to stop doing essays since I was doing most of them in one sitting.

Unfinished Essays

So believe it or not I had planned on doing one final essay on “Expanded Universe Content,” inspired by my pet peeve with expanded universe novels and content (If I’m going to read a Doctor Who or Star Wars novel it better damn be amazing). I was actually going to do things the right way with sources, references, MLA citation at the end of the blog post, and sweet Baby Yoda I realized I’d be going above and beyond Grad Student work.

I also wanted to do an essay on comedy and inclusion, but just didn’t have the time to sit down and plan it out; all I remember is that it had to do with wanting to be included in comedy as a lgbt individual and the decision of Family Guy to stop doing gay jokes. (If you can’t laugh at yourself then what’s the point of comedy?)

Why I’m Leaving and What I’ll be Doing.

Like I mentioned earlier I had forgotten I had this blog twice in the past year. In the past year of working full time, working part time, working two jobs, to working and doing a teacher certification my brain began to re prioritize what’s important and what isn’t. While Books and Smizmars was and is important to me, It’s not getting me any money or helping me achieve my goals long term.

I did spend some time rereading some of my old posts and essays; the main thought in my head was “I could have done better,” which I’m sure is in every person’s mind when they examine something they did in the past, but for me had a stinging sensation from when I was studying English.

I’ll be focusing on a teaching career; I’m currently a sub, I’m actually a little shocked I know enough of science, math, art, and English to help students rather than just be a sub who kicks back and tells students to do their work coming up with excuses not to help them.

I’ve also chosen to focus on artistic endeavors a little more and have shelved writing interests for the time being. I like being an artist and I’m finally comfortable enough to call myself that after years of questioning my talent and ability.

I don’t think I’m officially done with blogging for good, I’ve stopped blogs in the past and always find myself back to doing them. Who knows, maybe the next blog will be for the sake of art. For now though, it’s a farewell, it’s been a lovely five(ish) years and I hope you enjoyed reading.



Top Ten Books of the Decade

In just a few days, not only will there be a new year, but a whole new decade! It still feels like yesterday I was questioning my life choices as an english major and if I was genuinely happy in that degree program where I was actually reading a lot less than I thought I would be. So here is a top ten list of books I enjoyed published between 2010 and 2019! I am applying a rule where I can’t repeat books from a franchise (as in I can only pick one book from the Star Wars Franchise). There is no particular order for this list, I am just picking ten books I enjoyed from the last decade.

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan- I admit I was aware of this book for a few years before the release of the film, but for whatever reason didn’t read it until after I saw the film. I think the books are hilarious and the description of the food was so wonderful that it made me want to go bankrupt flying to Singapore just for the sake of eating.
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Merissa Meyer- As a young adult in the first half of the 2010s most of my reading was associated with sagas (we can blame Harry Potter and Twilight); it got to the point that when the Hunger Games was being adapted for films I just got tired of reading books with a mandatory sequel. Then came The Lunar Chronicles, I loved Cinder and was shocked at how fast I read through the first three books on my ereader. It’s also the series that jump started this little blog where I review books and movies!
  • Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- I gotta say that after I read The Fault in Our Stars I was interested in what else was written by John Green, and saw that I was very disappointed with what he had previously written. A friend suggested I read Will Grayson Will Grayson with him saying “oh you’ll see why you will like it.” and I was shocked to discover that it is an lgbt story that didn’t focus on the “coming out” plot that I loath so much. It was a story about relationships and how love is more complicated than just being attracted to someone and goes beyond the romantic love people insist on so heavily in life.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (and NOT JK Rowling)- I actually didn’t read this book until a few months ago despite owning the book since 2013 since like many after it was revealed JK Rowling had written a book under our noses I rushed over to Target and purchased a copy. In an effort to get back into reading again and fight the mental effect of grief I read the book, and liked it alot! Enough to read The Silkworm and currently read Career of Evil.
  • All the Wrong Questions by Daniel Handler- I loved reading A Series of Unfortunate Events as a teenager; the books were dark and comedic and just fit in so perfectly with my worldview. Reading the prequel series was mostly nostalgic for me and something I enjoyed heavily.
  • The Reason by Lacey Sturm- What a friend of mine thought was a ‘christian self help book’ when I was reading it turned out to be a book I liked (no it’s not a self help book. I don’t like self help books.) It was interesting to know what kind of life the former singer of Flyleaf lived and what led her to this point in life.
  • Glory O’Brian’s History of the Future by A.S. King- I have complaints about YA books at times; why must there be a love triangle, why must the protagonist need to find someone to love? Why is everything solved by money? Well this book addresses all of those complaints. It’s a story about friendship and fear of what the future has (it’s what was a ridiculous sounding future in 2014, until now where all kinds of crazy political things are happening in the U.S.)
  • Falling Towers by Jewell Parker Rhodes- I can’t exactly pinpoint exactly what I like about this book specifically; but I like that the protagonists place effort to get along with others despite different backgrounds in terms of culture, economic, and racial background.
  • Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris- I got into Doctor Who early 2012 and have been in love with the series ever since. I normally avoid expanded universe books for franchises because they are a hit or miss so I was delighted to see that this book wasn’t horribly bad (don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of crappy Doctor Who books out there and that’s an essay I’m saving for when I decide to end this blog.)
  • Whatever Mindy Kaling wrote- prior to a few years ago I avoided Autobiographical books because I don’t like knowing about traumatic events that happen to people, then I discovered there was more to these autobiographies written by female actresses and comedians beyond “woo feminism!” (Nothing against feminism, feminism is awesome.) Reading this book was hilarious and caused me to read similar books by Amy Pohler and Tina Fey.

And that’s it! A list of books I liked written in the past decade! No that doesn’t mean these are the end all be all best of the best from the 2010s, but they are the books that I did enjoy. What books did you like published the last ten years? Is there one you think I should have read? Do you disagree with anything I have on this list? Do you want to throw a chair at me? Comment below if you do.

Star Wars Rise of Skywalker Review

The Skywalker saga has concluded tonight and I am mostly speechless in my reaction to the movie. I will say that I was heavily pleased with the movie. With so many fans (alot of them bitter over what happened in The Last Jedi), and so many people with various expectations for the film. My personal worry being “okay how are they gonna make that archive footage of Carrie Fisher work in this?”

You know what comes after the bold text, it’s spoilers, I won’t post major ones, but they’re there.

I don’t know where to start without giving a full synopsis while avoiding crazy spoilers, but this movie is a fan pleasing movie. There are various cameos from heroes from the past rebellion and from current media (but no mention of the Colossus or the Aces from Star Wars Resistance). I will admit that the acting around Leia felt a little off, probably due to Carrie being given a different direction in terms of acting when her scenes were initially recorded, but that’s only a minor problem for a portion of the film.

While The Last Jedi focused heavily on the difference between being a hero and needing leaders, The Rise of Skywalker focuses on themes concerning identity and how your bloodline doesn’t define who you are. When Rey’s parentage is revealed, she does struggle with the revelation, but is reminded that it’s not her bloodline that matters, but rather what she does with her power and abilities.

Poe’s lessons from the previous movie (and expanded universe material) fully cement in as he’s more cautious when teaming up with Finn and Rey on their quest in the film. Finn stays fully devoted to the Resistance firmly standing by his peers with no temptation to abandon people in need.

Without going into further details some moments in the film are predictable, some are not, I admit part of my attention was looking for a rumored cameo of one of my favorite Ahsoka Tano (the cameo is there).

The biggest feeling I got from the film is relief. Relief that characters survived the destruction of the Hosnian system, that most of the characters from novels, comics, and tv shows are alive and came to help in the final battle. Relief that the Ghost crew was able to aid once again and make it out alive.

I give Star Wars the Rise of Skywalker five out of five yellow lightsabers.

My Pittsburgh Vacation and Meeting an Online Friend

About a month ago I did something I thought I possibly wouldn’t do and that was literally go meet a friend I met through the internet. I know in modern times meeting someone you met online isn’t such a big deal; we use the internet for various reasons and sometimes people are scheduled to meet bosses online or meet a date via dating apps. This was a little different though because I’ve been friends with this individual for five years.

How did I meet this strange man, YouTube, I discovered his videos back in 2012 and was just starting acrylic painting, and somehow I ended up in a live art hangout and chatting with him and other artists. This led to him giving a few tips on how to improve my abilities as an artist and…a friend request on Facebook. 

From my side of the friendship, I did my best to stay as professional as possible when it began. I didn’t even look up his personal Facebook out of respect for his privacy. And post friend request we stayed fairly professional (sorta). It was neat discovering he was also catholic, a little fun making him guess my sexual orientation, and so worth it upgrading from liquitex basic and Apple Barrel brand paints to Golden acrylic paints and Liquitex Professionals. 

About three years into our friendship and numerous video calls the topic of meeting in real life popped up; because I was working on a degree I felt it would be best to postpone the meeting until I had a degree and stable income.Then came life issues, and then I landed a job at a call center. Working at the call center was not a happy experience, but I motivated myself through it all by reminding myself that I was saving money to meet this strange man on the internet.

Who is This Mystery Man?

So first thing is first, my friend Ben is not gay, he’s straight. Despite what some family members thought this was not one expensive hookup, this literally was me visiting and meeting a friend. He runs the YouTube channel Cinder Block Studios where he gives painting tutorials on techniques with acrylic paint.

He’s a great painter and I have learned a lot from him over the years (even if it looks like I’m just screwing around). He’s pretty cool, younger than he looks, younger than me by a few months, is older than me mentally (like 98% of the time), taller than me, makes amazing cocktails, and cooks some of the best food I’ve ever tasted (I damaged a temporary filling on his porkchop. It was worth it). 

How was Your Vacay?

It was great, I actually found myself relaxing so much more than I have in a long time. I had time to sit down and fully have thoughts to myself and not have to focus on other needs in life. It was a little strange being the minority, but I got over it pretty fast.

I also went to confession and had a lifelong paranoia of “do I even look Mexican American?” put to rest when the priest at his church spoke to me in Spanish. I also got to a Blicks art store, it was interesting to go to an art store that specified solely on art and not branch into other ventures like crafts. I also got to drag Ben to two bookstores and give him an idea of what it’s like when I go shopping for books and what kind of books I like. 

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city with nature and art, way too many hills though. But seeing so many trees and at times being tempted to explore the small forests close to Ben’s house just to seclude myself from the world a little more than I normally do. 

One of my favorite places to see was The Cathedral of Learning where each room is dedicated to a different culture. It may have been a coincidence that the day I went was the grand opening of the room for The Philippines, but I think it’s a nice way of being reminded that even if I traveled to a different state and different time zone that a little piece of home would find a way to be near me. 

I also met Ben’s family who are all very kind and hospitable people. Also yes Ben is straight, I know reading this sort of sounds like a shitty romcom, but it’s not!

Science Friction, Doctor Who Meets Stargate SG1

So one idea I had thrown out before all of this was set in stone was both of us showing each other one of our favorite movies that the other hadn’t seen. Somehow this turned into showing each other episodes of Doctor Who (Listen, Demons of the Punjab, The New Earth, The Day of the Doctor, Vincent and the Doctor) and Stargate SG1; (1969, Window of Opportunity, Revisions, 200, Upgrades) We also showed each other movies (He showed me Midnight in Paris and Coming to America, I showed him Crazy Rich Asians and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).

It was very nice to see how we would react to our favorite shows; he thought Peter Capaldi was an amazing Doctor and really liked Fantastic Beasts, he wasn’t so into Crazy Rich Asians. I very much enjoyed Stargate SG1 and started watching the series on Hulu. I do have thoughts on Coming to America and may write an essay comparing that film to Crazy Rich Asians along with some realizations as to why I love CRA.


So this was one of the cool things about my trip was painting. Both of us did get time to sit down and paint with each other; I didn’t have anything planned or feel a type of inspiration so I did some simple abstract art that was shockingly impressive. I also created alot of eyes because it’s my go to doodle whenever trying a new medium. 

Like I said earlier having some private time to think, read, and paint helped me at the very least experiment with colors and shapes. Also I popped up in two of his youtube videos.

Tell me about your adventures, have you ever met a stranger on the internet just for fun (the PG kind)?

Pokemon Detective Pikachu Review

I’ve waited about twenty years for this movie; not specifically a movie about a pikachu that was a detective, but a live action pokemon movie. Yes I am a fan of the Pokemon franchise, I have kept up with the videogames based on my income level (so far gen 5 is the only gen I had to skip), I have a few issues of Pokemon The Electric Tale of Pikachu, and my favorite arc of Pokemon Adventures is the Ruby/Sapphire arc. I don’t play the cardgame, and I enjoy playing Pokemon Go with my friends, and maybe one day I’ll get into competitive battling. I also have various pikachu dolls around my room…

So then, a live action pokemon movie that many people thought would either be amazing, suck, or be somewhere in the middle. I think it fell in the middle. I’m going to try to do this review as spoiler free as possible because I’m actually going to share it with a friend of mine who is half of FullCircle Podcast.

Okay I know I said I wasn’t going to do any spoilers, but I like doing this bold text thing, helps me decide when to actually begin the review.

The story follows Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) as he returns to Ryme City with the news of his father’s sudden and mysterious passing in the line of detective work duty. Tim is confronted by a talking pikachu with a detective hat that can speak to him (with Ryan Reynolds’ voice!) The two are joined by Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) a intern reporter who is investigating a mysterious substance that makes pokemon behave unlike themselves.

This movie…was made with alot of love, respect, and understanding of the Pokemon franchise, to the point where my goldfish brain was more focused on easter eggs and accuracy to the pokemon videogames (holy spit is it accurate). There are various references to the anime as well (Lucy has a Psyduck who suffers from headaches, but unlike a certain water trainer, Lucy loves said Psyduck and plays whailemer/whailord sounds to soothe the Psyduck’s headaches.)

The realistic approach to the pokemon may be a little offsetting to both fans and nonfans of the franchise .Some background pokemon look exactly like their game counterparts except in 3d and rendered to blend in with the real world as seen in some of the commercials. I actually had alot of fun playing “who’s that pokemon?” whenever one popped up on the screen and will probably play it again when I take some of my nieces and nephews to see the film.

The actual plot of the move…could be better, but I have heard rumors from Did You Know Movies that this is a test to see if a Pokemon Cinimatic Universe could work, I’d like for it to work. I was actually shocked that some observations I made of the commercials were accurate to the films; in select parts of the Pokemon world battling is frowned upon and underground battles do happen. Nothing more was touched upon in this subject, but I’m very shocked battling took a backseat in the story completely (maybe even trunkspace).

The target audience of Pokemon (fans of the franchise, kids, fans with kids, nerds, weebs, late twenties shut ins) will probably like Detective Pikachu. I don’t know if a mainstream audience will love it, but I may have convinced some friends who aren’t as into pokemon to see it.

I give Pokemon Detective Pikachu three Lure Balls out of Five.

Quickie Review Mary Poppins Returns

Somehow this little blog about books ended up reviewing movies, netflix original series, and a videogame that one time (and some essays that should really be given more effort and REALLY should be cited). There are lots of movies I like (because I’m someone just easy to please), but don’t really have too many thoughts on them, so that’s where I came up with the idea of quickies. Short and simple reviews for fairly minor movies.

A Spoonful of Sugar makes the Review go Faster!

After over sixty years (and all kinds of controversies between author, disney, and even a movie based around the controversy between PL Travers and Walt Disney), we have Mary Poppins Returns. I gotta admit I didn’t particularly care or was even aware this movie came out at the end of last year. I decided to give it a shot after seeing a few Mary Poppins inspired paintings and buying a tea set for my aunt.

The film is shockingly lovely and nostalgic; not in the sense that Mary Poppins was my go to movie as a kid, but because I did stay up late in the 90’s and 00’s watching Disney Channel where after a few hours they showed reruns of classic Disney media including Walt Disney Presents and some of the older Disney films and even some behind the scenes stuff on how the Disney films, shorts, and special effects were done. They even roll the intro credits like the old disney films, complete with illustrations of what to expect in the film as a whole.

The plot is predictable, the Banks family has troubles and may lose their home, Mary Poppins is going to step in and aid once again, nothing too complex. Emily Blunt’s portrayal of Mary Poppins is not the same as the approach Julie Andrews took, rather than being wholesome and sweet, Blunt is…blunt. When asked about portraying the character, Blunt said she took inspiration from the book version of Mary Poppins because she felt she couldn’t channel the same energy as Julie Andrews’ portrayal.

The movie is pretty to look at and I did feel giddy over the 2d animation used for the film since Disney hasn’t done 2d animation since The Princess and the Frog (why do my friends hate that movie??) The music is nice, I’m not much of a music oriented person, but I did enjoy The Place Where the Lost Things Go very much. Also Lin Manuel Miranda finds a way to rap in this movie (sorta).

I give Mary Poppins Returns three balloons out of five.

Lego Movie 2 The Second Part Review

Everything is awesome in a LEGO product! Okay well everything is awesome so long as you’re not the parent dishing out money for the set or stepping on one of those little bricks. Lego’s are cool, they have all these awesome things you can build from plastic little bricks (so long as you follow the instructions), and even encourage kids to go offroading and create new things outside of the set (granted each time I did that I got a crappy airplane).

I actually didn’t grow up with Legos though because my mom said they were too expensive and that I’d just leave all the bricks everywhere to injure both her and my dad (she was completely right and I don’t hold it against her). So I missed out on a lot of Lego shenanigans growing up (it’s cool, I made up for it in the form of books, art supplies, and manga, and admittingly Lego Dimensions is one of my favorite videogames and possibly the best approach of the now dead Toys to Life gaming genre).

I saw the Lego movie in 2014, thought it was one of the most hilarious movies I had ever seen, and wondered what the sequel would be about. Then I discovered the sequel was briefly postponed due to the story choosing to focus on the sensitive topic of how boys and girls play. As I said I didn’t grow up with Legos so I wasn’t aware there was a gender issue with it, but this here video gave me an idea of how bad the issue is.

Spoilers from this point on, maybe you need a catchy song to forget about the spoilers though.

The second movie picks up right where the first movie left off where the younger sister of Finn (Bianca) is invited to play in Bricksburg and as expected, older siblings can never have nice things. Five years after the events of Taco Tuesday. Bricksburg is now Apocalypseburg and everyone is dark, gritty, and tough, except Emmet. Until Sweet Mayhem comes along. Most of the master builders are kidnapped and taken to the Systar System and Emmet takes off to rescue them and prove he’s a tough gritty guy.

I’m actually going to shift away from the story and talk about how the movie possibly made a smart move and rather than focusing on the above mentioned “feminist issue” of how boys and girls play, it focuses more on communication and how Bianca wants to play with her older brother Finn, but the age gap between them and minor different interests make playing together hard at times. There’s also Finn wondering how to stay a nice guy despite movies (and possibly peers) saying that he needs to toughen up. Meanwhile residents of the Systar System adopt a tough and intimidating attitude just to make the citizens of Apocalypsburg listen and acknowledge them, despite most of the residents just being happy, fun loving individuals who really like catchy pop music.

Once again the climax of the movie is resolved in the older protagonist (this time film) acknowledging they messed up, and making up for the mistake made and both siblings playing legos together, except this time Bianca isn’t as rough at play time than she was as a kid and can communicate what plot points she wants in play time.

The toys featured in the film are pretty neat and creative, I find myself almost tempted to dish out 120$ to purchase Emmett’s spaceship house and Sweet Mayhem’s spaceship (almost tempted, but hey I now have a VIP card to the Lego store). It does make me think that maybe I’ll purchase The Lego Movie 2 video game or possibly get Lego Dimensions on Steam (if I can ever figure out how to use Steam).

Sadly, ALOT of this movie was spoiled for me online, and I wasn’t even looking for spoilers so most of the jokes used in the film were spoiled and I didn’t laugh as hard as I thought it would. The film also isn’t as crazy as the previous film or The Lego Batman Movie, but still enjoyable (I haven’t seen The Lego Ninjago movie, I need to see it).

I give Lego Movie 2 The Second Part three out of five catchy songs.

Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy Review

Crazy Rich Asians is a movie from 2018 that I’ve seen so many times that if I had a dollar for each time I’ve said ‘bok bok bitch’ I too would be crazy rich. So naturally I went to my local library and checked out the audiobooks to listen to the series because I haven’t been able to sit down and read for a long while now. I really enjoyed the series and highly recommend them to anyone who loved the movie and is impatient for the other two books to be adapted to film.

Spoilers from this point on, you wish you had the money to pay me to spoil EVERYTHING though (I do have a price in my head though)

Crazy Rich Asians

This is a rare case where I actually saw the film first despite being aware of the existence of the novel since 2014 (I don’t know why I didn’t read it), but I saw it with my best friend and her sisters, my mom, and a few other people.

The film focuses mainly on the character Rachel who is an “american born chinese” (ABC) meeting the friends and family of her boyfriend Nick and the culture shock she experiences as both a woman from a lower income life and as a american born Chinese visiting Singapore. The movie follows the plot of the book fairly closely, but there are large chunks of plot removed from the film because that’s just what happens when a book is adapted to film.

The biggest differences include the character of Nick’s mother Eleanore Young who is just as crazy as the Aunties she ‘leads’ in the film. In the Film Eleanore is more calm and collected and at times it seems like she was telling Rachel to scram just to spare Rachel from having to go through what she herself went through after getting married to Nick’s dad.

There’s also loads and loads of more characters that it would make the character chart for A Song of Ice and Fire cry in jealousy. All of them are actually pretty funny and have various moments to shine as both heroes and villains in the story. Also lots of food is described in all three books (you could literally change the title to Crazy Rich Foodies and more or less have the same plot).

China Rich Girlfriend

The second book in the series picks up two years after the events of the first book and have the plot of Rachel and Nick getting married and Rachel meeting her long lost biological father and meeting and befriending her brother.

The plot doesn’t get as dramatic as it did in the previous book with the revelation that Rachel has a long lost father, if anything it made me loath characters introduced in the book that blow money on anything so long as it’s expensive.

The plot of Rachel getting to know and befriend her stepbrother is a heartwarming one though as the two do come from totally different worlds, but Rachel’s down to earth attitude and ‘realness’ causes her brother Carlton to change his life to a more modest approach. There is also drama with Rachel’s stepmother who is paranoid about the intentions Rachel has upon discovering her father is still alive.

Then there’s Kitty Pong, a surprise character to jump into the spotlight of the series who is making her way from small time actress (and porn actress) towards the bigger social circles of both China and Singapore.

While the book was paced differently from it’s predecessor, it still is a great listen and read just for the sake of seeing what Rachel and Nick are up to.

Rich People Problems

The third book in the series takes a darker tone and approach than what was previously presented in the series. Nick’s grandmother Su Yi becomes ill and many members of the family visit her in fear that her time on earth is running out. It was depressing to see so many characters more fixated on seeing what Su Yi’s will would leave them rather than caring about Su Yi herself. It also was depressing to see that her children were going through the struggles of seeing someone that they love dearly suffer and be powerless to do anything about it.

Then there’s the eventual death of Su Yi and how the family reacts to it both emotionally and how they react to what is written in her will along with the big twist hidden in it. Also more Kitty Pong and the levels of extreme her gold digging take her to.

Crazy Rich Asians is a great and hilarious movie and a pretty funny book series. I highly recommend them to people who like romcoms, people who like movies and books about different cultures, people who like fashion, people who like gossip, and the main target audience, foodies.

I give the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan four Leiber Precious Rose purses out of five.

Doctor Who ‘Rosa’ Episode Review

Most episodes of the current season of Doctor Who were kept under wraps for various reasons (new Doctor, new showrunner, no idea what to expect), however one (confirmed) rumor caught my attention. The revelation that an episode would focus on the civil rights hero and activist Rosa Parks. The plot filled me with curiosity and excitement; I have looked up to Rosa Parks since I was seven years old so hearing that she would be the focus of a Doctor Who episode was more than enough to grab my attention.

But what would happen in the episode I wondered; will she be running away from aliens? Will there be spaceships in the Alabama night sky? What would happen? However with the announcement that Doctor Who would partially return to its ‘educational television’ roots (yes Doctor Who was originally educational television) I began to get an idea of what would happen (and hoped there would be no giant spaceships with Daleks chasing after Rosa Parks).

Minor Spoilers from this point on

The episode actually toned down most of the science fiction elements of Doctor Who where the most that is mentioned are specific particles around Rosa Parks and the Doctor wondering why Rosa has these particles in the first place. Some mention of time travel, and a few high tech devices that are disposed of with ease, but as stated before, science fiction takes a backseat for most of this episode.

The episode actually does something not seen in previous Doctor Who episodes. Fully addresses the issue with time travel and race. While the Doctor has previously had two companions of color onboard the Tardis, the subject was more or less glossed over; Martha Jones saw that race wasn’t such a big deal in the time of WIlliam Shakespeare (allegedly) and had to put up with being a ‘servant’ in victorian times (I think it was victorian times) and bit her tongue while most of the cast treated her as a servant. With Bill there is some racism, the Doctor initially tells her to not take it so personally, but then punches a guys lights out for making a racial slur at Bill’s expense (the rest of Bill’s tenure on the Tardis are either in present day, the future, or more fantasy based).

Here Ryan and Yaz experience the racism of Montgomery Alabama first hand with no glossing over anything with Ryan even being referred to as a negro in one scene and Yaz being called ‘a Mexican girl’ just because she’s brown. The Doctor doesn’t even consider risking the lives of Ryan and Yaz ordering them to go back to the Tardis for their own safety.

Some scenes were very chilling to watch, with one scene in particular where our heroes are having a personal conversation at a diner table turning out differently than they expected. Where in the Russell T Davies and Stephen Moffat era, the conversation would have gone on uninterrupted with nothing big happening, the whole restaurant goes quiet as the Doctor and her friends slowly begin to realize they’re being watched and that people are listening in on their conversation before being told to leave the restaurant.

However the relationship between Ryan and Graham is strengthened with Graham immediately jumping to Ryan’s defense and refusing to allow any harm to come to his step grandson. We also continue to get reference to Grace whom Ryan and Graham are still mourning for.

I continue to be impressed with Jodie Whittaker’s acting as the Doctor, there were many scenes in the episode where she had the same strength and character as David Tennant and Peter Capaldi and could see previous incarnations of the Doctor within the performance.

While the ending is a little bittersweet with the arrest of Rosa Parks and the Doctor informing her friends that just because history was preserved and Rosa was still a hero remembered in positive light in history, life would only become harder for her during the civil rights movement, it really does have it’s strong moments and concludes with the Doctor reminding the viewers and her friends that Rosa Parks will eventually receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and that her actions would cause waves of goodness throughout the universe.

I give Rosa, the third episode of season 37/11 of Doctor Who five out of five asteroids.

Doctor Who, The Woman Who Fell to Earth Review

After what feels like an eternity, Doctor Who is back with a new series, new Doctor, new companions, new showrunner, new sonic screwdriver, new tardis, new composer for music, and various other new things. Honestly I was worried, not about the Doctor being portrayed for the first time by a woman (I don’t really care the Doctor is a woman now), but from previous episodes by new showrunner Chris Chibnall I feared the show would be boring, and that with BBC marketing the show like crazy focusing primarily on the Doctor now being a woman to the point where I was nearly convinced the Doctor was now a woman primarily as a publicity stunt.

My personal fear was that if Chibnall’s writing was boring, then all of the hype and marketing focused on Jodie Whittaker would blow up in the face of BBC and rather than blaming the show runner, history (and some negative portions of the fandom) would place the blame solely on the casting of a female Doctor.

But yesterday came, fans gathered in excitement to see how the new series of Doctor Who would turn out. And the episode was…okay.

Spoilers from this point on, I don’t have the money to throw you out of a tardis to the ground so you can briefly have amnesia.

The episode wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the most amazing thing in the world, but I am delightfully surprised at how much I enjoyed it and wasn’t bored at all watching the episode. The episode focused on introducing our new protagonists and allowing us to get to know them as people. Instead of using little quirks and ticks our characters are fairly normal everyday people. We have Ryan Sinclair, Yazmin “Yaz” Khan, Grace Sinclair, and her husband Graham O’Brian.

Ryan is a young man who has dyspraxia and kind of reminds me of both Mickey Smith and Rose Tyler. Like Rose and Mickey, Ryan is a good person and does come from a very loving family, but isn’t fully satisfied with life at time and has trouble functioning at times with his dyspraxia condition preventing him from doing activities that seem trivial like riding a bike.

Yaz is a police officer who knew Ryan previously in life and is a toned down Judy Hopps. Despite working in position for over a year, she is still assigned mundane assignments such as being a traffic cop, meter maid, and settling minor disputed among citizens.

Grace is Ryan’s grandmother and the wife of Graham. They met while Graham was going through chemotherapy via Grace being Graham’s nurse during the treatment. Grace is kind, loving, adventurous, and honestly too good for the at times depressing universe of Doctor Who (thank goodness there’s The Testimony from last christmas…). Graham is not as adventurous as Grace, but a good man who does love his wife dearly.

Our new incarnation of the Doctor is….fairly quirky. It was interesting seeing Jodie Whittaker, and actress normally cast as “a woman mother going through a personal struggle,” “a woman who’s not in the best relationship with a man,” or both at the same time do a more heroic role where instead of seeking someone to save her, Jodie is the one saving the day instead.

Get to the F***ing Episode

In contrast with previous showrunner Steven Moffat, Chris Chibnall focused more on characters rather than having characters be established by a select few lines and doing one really badass thing, they’re established by their interactions with the current situation and how they treat each other and people who aren’t important in the episode. The episode actually felt like a mash up of Chibnall’s previous television show Broadchurch and the Netflix original series Stranger Things (especially with the Stemza targeting citizens at random and having them mysteriously die horribly).

I was actually happy to see that Chibnall channeled his experience with Broadchurch more than his work with Torchwood and Doctor Who.

Our antagonist for the episode, the Stemza, is kind of a bounty hunter who is treating earth as fair game to hunt for humans. He is menacing, collects teeth as trophies from his kills, and plants DNA bombs into our protagonists, and isn’t intimidated by the Doctor (atleast not until the Doctor shows him who has the true upper hand.)

We don’t get any crazy big musical scores for the episode that were present during the Steven Moffat era, nor does the Doctor give one big damn speech to talk down her antagonists. We see all the characters mentioned pulling together to defeat the threat opposing them. Which sadly results in the loss of Grace by the end of the episode who dies in a selfless act of protecting her grandson.

I liked seeing the Doctor openly welcoming the help of civilians rather than scaring them off and warning them “don’t get involved” unless the danger is really there to worry over. She’s without her tardis or her sonic screwdriver and even without them she is able to figure out how to save the day. She uses some earth technology to fend of tentacle monsters and creates a new sonic screwdriver from using both human and alien technology.

Finally our Doctor’s new look; I don’t hate it and the look has grown on me over the months, but there are times it is very ridiculous.

Thirty godamn Minutes of Commercials!

There was one big problem about the episode that wasn’t actually in the episode. Despite the episode airing in multiple countries at once, BBC America chose to place thirty minutes worth of commercials in the premier of the episode (something BBC America has done with previous Doctor Who premiers and Christmas episodes shamelessly). Three fourths of the entire run time were dedicated to commercials causing the episode to conclude a full thirty minutes before the BBC America finished the episode. This problem caused significant disruption within the episode and even gave spoilers concerning the end of the episode before the episode even concluded concerning the death of Grace. This same problem has been present in christmas episodes previously aired on BBC America and I think after the negative backlash of fans from this airing, BBC America may rethink how they treat season premiere episodes of their shows.

I give The Woman Who Fell to Earth three NEW sonic screwdrivers out of five.