Podcast 68: Nintendo Direct – 11.05.2014 Podcast

 

What is the rest of 2014 and early 2015 going to look like for Nintendo? One word: Majora’s Mask. OK, so that’s two words. Either way, Will and Willie discuss Nintendo’s November 5th Nintendo Direct and what it means for the company into next year.

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South Park “Cock Magic” Review

South Park “Cock Magic” Review

Season 18, Episode 8

 

Leave it to “South Park” to take an 11-year-old card game and make the best episode so far this season.

South Park has done this before – taking nerd staples like “World of Warcraft,” “Guitar Hero,” and Pokemon, and creating great episodes that imbibe themselves into the fandom’s own psuedo-canon and joke repertoire.

“Cock Magic” isn’t better than any of these previous efforts, but it does rank near them, and stands as the best episode this season and the closest we’ve gotten to a true classic-in-the-making episode. It’s the first time all season I feel like the show has actually left the “South Park” stamp on pop culture: “Magic: The Gathering” and cock fighting are going to now be forever linked and oft referenced, and that’s a feat the show has failed to hit recently.

Oddly enough (and maybe for the better) the plot strayed away from overly topical references this week to focus on the chicken fights – the hens playing M:TG was a great gag – even if it was pretty predictable.  The boys going to pick out a rooster and the farmer’s commentary was great, going through the different types of hens and how they each specialized in a different type of mana. And the free range joke probably would have meant more if I still played M:TG, but it was still another solid jab to throw in there.

It did seem a little weird that the show mentioned animal rights issues (something the show has done in the past both with PETA and the veal episode), but only went surface-deep with the whole idea. Kenny originally seemed to have *some* type of problem with using chickens, but the show was overly dismissive of this thinking without explaining why.

Randy’s plot, on the other cock, left quite a bit to be desired. It was weak, even for a B story arc, although I am surprised that they were able to get that much dick past the censors. It didn’t really fit in with the episode. I’m not sure if that was a subtle hint of a weed legalization parody in the whole “people are accepting it now and the older generation needs to show them how its done,” but the show can pull a much stronger second story than just having Randy run around and do gag humor magic with his dick. All that to say, I still got a shock laugh when he actually tried cutting through his penis as part of the magic act. And an even bigger one when he actually pulled his severed penis out from behind the little girl’s ear.

Some of the best “South Park” stories come from the boys just being middle schools boys and the girls being middle school girls, but beside a few (well received) girl’s volleyball jokes, the story didn’t amount to much. I would have rather seen this given more screen time than Randy’s plot, at the very least. Pulling M:TG and volleyball together at the end kind of worked, but also felt like a half-baked idea and the show working backwards from the final scene (much like last week).

I do want to make one note of concern – South Park can’t simply keep speaking to the same audience, and M:TG is right up there with Oculus and “Game of Thrones” in terms of its nerd-base. I’ve never thought about the show’s audience as much as I have this season, and as it struggles with voice perhaps doubling down on these more evergreen topics is helpful, but it can’t stick to the same area of geeky jokes forever.

It may not have been especially topical or drawn from last week’s headlines, but “Cock Magic” gave us something this season has sorely lacked: a South Park that has left its mark on another facet of pop culture that will be remembered after this season wraps.

 

 

Notes and quotes:

-Who doesn’t want to watch girl’s volleyball?!?

-Man, that M:TG player Kenny faced was pretty spot on.

-Not sure what to say about Randy’s cock gag, but a tad surprise they were able to get that past the censors. Aside from that, really felt out of place in the larger scheme of things.

-LOL they named the chicken McNuggets.

-That shit made regular Magic: The Gathering look like girl’s volleyball.

-Girl’s volleyball isn’t a joke. Jokes are hard and require skill.

-ESPN Illegal just reminds me of “Dodgeball’s” ESPN 8 the ocho joke.

-I used to play M:TG, but it’s been so long that I can’t speak to how accurate the cards and their abilities were, but that didn’t really seem to take much away from enjoying what was going on.

-OK, maybe Randy’s plot wasn’t that bad after all.

South Park “Grounded Vindaloop” Review

South Park “Grounded Vindaloop” Review

Season 18, Episode 7

 
Gulp. Well. That just happened. And just when it looked like season 18 couldn’t sink any lower.

Apparently even when “South Park” doesn’t have much to say, it can still find a way to say nothing for a whole episode. Cartman tricks Butters by making him think his cardboard Oculus Rift sends him into a virtual world, but really Butters is in a virtual world or maybe all of the boys are or maybe the show just took the best idea it had (and it wasn’t a very good one) and just ran with it as long and far as possible.

What resulted was what happens when “South Park” finds one joke and then decides to do it over and over again and stretch it out over the course of 20 some odd minutes and then what happens when “South Park” finds one joke and then decides to do it over and over again and stretch it out over the course of 20 some odd minutes and see isn’t that just really annoying?

Yup. What may have started as a “Total Recall” or Oculus Rift parody comes out the other end of the show’s quick turnaround time as a weak, repetitive, and lazy effort to stretch a thin premise into an entire episode.

Someone pointed out to me a few episodes ago that the show has been picking very “first world” problems to get into this season, and there’s an argument to be made there. Oculus? “South Park’s” main audience segment has probably heard of it, but is it something that a lot of people are talking about? Not really. I’d wager most people still don’t have a clue what Oculus is.

The same could be said for Uber and Lyft. Ride sharing is a problem in big cities and large areas, but there’s a lot of people in the country who probably haven’t heard of them either. I’m not saying “South Park” has to water down its appeal or pander to the lowest common denominator, but there needs to be some relevancy to what it picks each week. Especially with its new and shorter once-a-year run.

There were some good moments – Steve’s dedication to hearing that he had done a good job, and everybody eventually thinking someone else was in on the joke and giving their big drawn out “Fuck you’s,” but that’s not enough to anchor an entire episode on. And an Indian customer service joke is pretty much shooting fish-in-a-barrel at this point.

At the end it turns out that Stan was the one who had the headset on the whole time, not that any of it really mattered. I don’t hate this episode quite as much as I feel like I should – maybe because it does somewhat succeed in creating the mind loop that it was going for – but unlike other shows or movies where the loop matters, here it just really didn’t. It never mattered what was real or what was virtual, giving us another weak and mostly forgettable episode.

 

 

Notes and quotes:

-Not a lot here this week. The show had small chuckles sprinkled throughout, but not much worth noting.

-The show seems really keen on the Cartman/Butters pairing this season

-He doesn’t care, I can continue!

-Little real Butters at the end was kind of cute, I guess.

The Not So Silent Podcast Episode 9: Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 12 “Death In Heaven”

The finale is here! The past 12 weeks and episodes have all led up to this. Will The Doctor survive? Will Clara? Does anybody die in heaven? Listen in as we discuss season 8’s finale, “Death In Heaven.”

The podcast is now live on iTunes, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the awesomeness! Click right here and it will pop up right in iTunes.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.

South Park “Freemium Isn’t Free” Review

South Park “Freemium Isn’t Free” Review

Season 18, Episode 6

 

 

Sometimes even “South Park” sinks to easy targets.

This was one of those weeks. Free-to-play games aren’t new. They are annoying, and yes, they trick players into starting with a free game, and then charge them for microtransactions. But are they worthy of a full “South Park?” As the Canadians say: “Eh.”

Despite the ease of the target, the show opened fairly strong. Terrance and Phillip got a humorous breakdown of the science behind freemium gaming, trying to draw a hard comparison to the people making these games and the alcohol industry, as well as making a comparison between the people who get addicted to the games and alcoholics.

The show even threw in a bit of live action with a mock alcohol advertisement, pushing the parallel even further. The ad was great – a strong and hilarious attack on the alcohol advertising machine – and with a fierceness the show hasn’t really shown this season.
The alcoholism comparison is a bit extreme though. Sure, people can be addicted to gaming and people can – and do- have problems with keeping track of their phone bills on free-to-play and mobile apps, but comparing it to people struggling with alcoholism is a stretch.
Comparing the industries and the tactics they use (curious if that consumption number for alcohol is correct or inflated) is totally fair, but the show had a much better case to be against the industry itself than the product consumers themselves, be they gamers or drinkers. I have no problem with gaming as a topic for the show (South Park tends to understand and lampoon gaming culture quite well), but it just wasn’t the best decision to pick a lesser target, and then focus on an even weaker audience within that target.

Throwing in Randy’s drinking problem (or cultural wine drinking) was worth a smirk, but there’s still a big difference between being addicted to buying things on an app and being an alcoholic.

Perhaps the show was going for bigger moral implications here, especially when it brought in Satan to try to explain to Stan that anything that is fun can become addicting, so the moral of the week seems to be to not have fun ever? It’s an odd week – even in South Park – when Satan is the voice of reason here, explaining to Stan how dopamine and addiction work. When he finally gets his hands on the game (decrying that temptation should be nuanced!), he possesses Stan and goes off to battle the Canadian Devil and things start to unravel and fall apart pretty quickly. The show just can’t stick endings this season.

At least there was a one-issue focus here, something the show has drastically lacked of late. Picking one topic to stick to – even if free-to-play games are tiny fish in the pop culture ocean – works when the show is struggling to find its voice, as it is this season. It’s tried several multitopic episodes, and, well they’ve suffered as a result.

It just seems weird to dedicate a whole episode to free-to-play games when so many other topics have been scrambled into one unfocused episode, like last week. The mock ad was a rare glimpse into the fiery, opinionated “South Park” that has been missing this season, and hopefully it continues with scorn and focus on the (now) back half of season 18.

 

 

 

 

Notes and quotes:

“They see through the charade.”

“The mium is Latin for not really.”

-“Soon Canada will be as advanced and developed as Michigan.”

-Worth repeating, that drink responsibly ad was amazing.

-“We’d say we lost an arm and a leg, but they aren’t worth much.”

“I tweeted it. It’s trending.”

-OK, I laughed at Beezleaboot.

-Why did Satan need Stan’s body?

-Some continuity with Randy making money as Lorde, I guess?

The Not So Silent Podcast Episode 8: Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 11 Dark Water + Episode 10 Into The Forest Of The Night

Another two episode podcast, as we look at episode 10 and the forest that came with it. We also discuss the first part of season 8’s finale, “Dark Water.” And we find out who Missy is! You don’t want to miss that. Go listen!

The podcast is now live on iTunes, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the awesomeness! Click right here and it will pop up right in iTunes.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.