My Thoughts on Marvel’s “The Defenders” (Spoiler-Free)

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I would’ve gotten to this a lot quicker than having finished it now, but I spent the last couple weeks marathoning “Star vs. The Forces of Evil”. Regardless, I knew going in that I was bound to like “The Defenders” solely based on my experiences with the other Netflix shows. I still consider the first season of “Daredevil” to be my bar for quality, but I found season 2 to be too cluttered. “Jessica Jones” had some pacing issues but was overall enjoyable, while “Luke Cage” had a strong first half before nosediving into a slightly disappointing second half. And, of course, “Iron Fist” is still my weakest choice of the bunch, even though I liked aspects of it. That all said, I was excited to see these four “heroes” come together for the first time and interact with each other. Did the show meet my expectations? Well, yes and no.

Plotwise, there’s not much I can talk about without getting into spoilers. Needless to say, Matt Murdoch, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Danny Rand, and many of their respective supporting characters meet and end up having to deal with the powerful adversary known as The Hand and its leaders. I’ve been pretty iffy about The Hand since their introduction in the second season of “Daredevil” and subsequent return in “Iron Fist.” As neat as the concept of mystical, nearly immortal ninjas are, I’ve found these shows tend to make them come off as uninteresting at times. Here, though, I really seeing the organization’s leaders come together and the head baddie, played expertly by Sigourney Weaver, was a bit of an enigma at first. I don’t think I can say she’s the best bad guy out of the Netflix MCU, but she wasn’t bad either.

Of course, the biggest draw of the show was seeing the inevitable team-up happen, and thankfully not one of them felt out of character to me. However, I did feel the eight episode restriction was both a help and a hindrance. It felt like more interactions could have taken place, and it may have also helped the plot feel a tad tighter (though the pacing was pretty good for the most part). I also felt that, since the showrunners here were also the ones who helmed “Daredevil,” that Matt and Elektra got a bit of preferential treatment. That’s not to say the others didn’t get to shine, but it clearly felt like they wanted to set up the next season of “Daredevil” in depth. Despite that, I liked what direction they took them in for the most part. I was very happy to see Jessica and Luke again, and their interactions with each other as well as Jessica’s with Matt and Luke’s with Danny were a joy to watch. I can’t wait for their shows to return to see what they get up to.

Speaking of Danny, though… Okay, I do feel he fared better here than in his own show, but it’s clear to me that Danny is still the weak link in terms of being interesting when compared to the other three. I can’t help comparing him to Oliver Queen from when I used to watch “Arrow,” and I feel bad because I do still like Danny’s rare moments of optimism. However, I adored his budding friendship with Luke and he actually gets some action scenes in this that show off his abilities well. I know I mentioned enjoying the drunken master fight in “Iron Fist,” but these fights were a lot more fast-paced (more on that later, though) and felt far more suited to his fighting style. The reoccurring set piece that is the hallway fight was a huge highlight of the season for me for this reason. I’m hopeful that the second season of “Iron Fist” takes some inspiration from this and ups the ante.

But now we come to the things I nitpicked or at the very least was disappointed by. While it didn’t bug me too much, they made the creative decision to have nearly every scene include colored lighting or some similar kind of aesthetic to match each character’s color scheme (red for Matt, blue for Jessica, yellow for Luke, and green for Danny). It was more distracting than anything. The action scenes, while mostly good, were sometimes edited in a way that made them hard to follow. One that took place at the beginning of the season and another towards the end come to mind. I also wasn’t sure how I felt about how Matt and Elektra ended up by the end of the season. With Matt, I could see his plan from a mile away, but Elektra was a bigger source of contention for me as she kinda takes the spotlight away from The Hand. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Elektra in “Daredevil,” so that did irk me. In regards to The Hand themselves, I felt like the final “battle” with them was a little anti-climatic. I’m hopeful we at least haven’t seen the last of the leaders, but time will tell if they pop up again. Finally, as much as I enjoyed the lack of filler thanks to the shorter season, I would’ve liked at least an episode that gave some of the supporting characters more to do. Foggy, Karen, Claire, Colleen, and Misty all get something to do, though more so Claire and Colleen, but poor Trish and Malcolm are sidelined through the majority of the season. I would’ve liked more interactions between all of them as well, if only for the potential conversations that could come from it.

Overall, while “The Defenders” didn’t quite reach the heights of that first “Daredevil” season for me, it was an entertaining watch. It was fun to see the four interact and they played off each other far better than I expected. I’m also glad the creators revealed more about The Hand’s operations, and for me this appearance actually got me to care even a little about what they were doing. However, after two shows featuring them this year, I’ll be more than happy to leave them behind for a while. And now that “The Defenders” is over, I’ll be looking forward to the new series with The Punisher that apparently comes out this year.

 

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One More Flea Market Visit

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It’s become a thing as my time living in Canada winds down before I move to the States, but I’ve been trying to enjoy the little things that I won’t get to do once I leave. One of those things is our town’s yearly flea market, and while the weather could have been a little better, I tried to make the most of it.

As part of our usual tradition, I went with my dad after having spent the early afternoon at my job. We managed to go when it wasn’t raining and quickly set things off right by grabbing our favorite treat – some chocolate/vanilla twist ice cream from an ice cream van called Meg’s. The next two hours after that were spent traversing the huge baseball field filled with tables and tents of various goods. My dad surprised me this year by buying quite a few things, such as earrings for my mom (she prefers to avoid the flea market), a couple brand new shovels and chainsaw chains.

As for me, I normally don’t buy many things on account of there being tons of things to pick from and me only having so much money to spend. This time was no different, but I was also taking into consideration the fact that I didn’t want to move even more stuff than I already have to. Thankfully, my fiance had given me the suggestion to look for the Super Nintendo game “Zombies Ate My Neighbors.” He’s always wanted to play it since he discovered its existence and it’s something we can play together to boot. I got super lucky and managed to find just TWO copies of the game in the whole market. I ended up buying one for $65 and I still don’t care if that’s too much for it or not. I’m just proud I found it since you never know just what you’ll find in that place. I also picked up my usual helping of flavored cotton candy (this time was chocolate – pretty good!) and the next season of “The Simpsons” that my fiance and I have to watch. All in all, I spent about $80, but it was more than worth it.

Finally, before we left the market about three and a half hours later, we had our yearly meal of curly fries with a couple cans of Pepsi to wash them down. My dad also tried out a buffalo burger (verdict: good), and right around the time we were about to finish, the rain started up again. We were both prepared as I had a coat with a hood on and my dad was wearing his cap, but we were still quick to duck inside the local rink to check out more merch and avoid the rain. All in all, we zoomed through the flea market pretty quick. The threat of bad weather played a minor part in that, but we still had a lot of fun and even saw/talked to a few people we knew from town.

I’m going to miss going every year. If my fiance and I manage to come up next year, we might be able to arrange it, but if not I’m hopeful that I’ll get to go back at least in a couple years. I know he’d also love that seeing as he really enjoyed when I took him there in 2014. I’m glad I got to treat this as a little send-off for the last of my summer traditions.

My Top 7 Current Fave Let’s Players

For all its flaws, YouTube is very important to me. Not only is it a great tool for discovering new things and people, but it also provides me with hours of entertainment every day. While there are a variety of people I watch on YouTube, one of the first things that brought me to the platform was let’s plays. I originally used them to figure out where I was if I got stuck in a game, but over time they’ve become one of my favorite things to watch online.

So, I’m pulling double duty from last week and doing another list. However, since I want to keep this list mainly to people who started out doing LPs (sorry PeanutButterGamer and ProJared), I’m only going to focus on my top 7. Keep in mind that my list is based on who I watch, and there are many popular let’s play channels that I either don’t follow or no longer follow. With that, let’s get started!

7. TheRunawayGuys

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I stumbled across these guys through a combination of finding Chuggaaconroy (Emile) on my own and my fiance introducing me to ProtonJon (Jon). I also watched a bit of NintendoCapriSun (Tim) afterwards as well. Although I don’t watch them individually anymore, I still love their dynamic on TheRunawayGuys. Their friendship really shines whenever they tackle multiplayer games like the Mario Party series or casual stuff like “Wheel of Fortune”, and I’m still  following their “Dokapon Kingdom” let’s play since it began years ago. While I don’t follow their channel as often as I used to, they still deserve to be on this list.

6. Video Games Awesome

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I’m slightly cheating with this one, because while “Video Games Awesome” is the first let’s play show they did, it wasn’t their first ever show. That honor goes to “Awesome Video Games,” which is more of a sketch show. However, I’m still including them because this is one of my favorite live shows to casually watch. The group consists of Fraser, his girlfriend Becky, and their friends Ben, Deacon and Kyle. Over the years, the show’s been mainly hosted by Fraser and Becky, but the others still make time every so often to play games together and I just adore their friendships with each other. I also love how they involve their audience via live chat, and it’s refreshing to watch some fellow Canadians when I’m up for a stream.

5. TheKingNappy

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As a result of me binging a few self-called PokeTubers, I found and have continued to enjoy TheKingNappy the most. While I also like and am subscribed to his friend, Shadypenguinn, Nappy came around at a time when me, my fiance and our friends liked to spend some nights playing Pokemon and trying to collect shinies through Wonder Trade. Nappy’s Wonder Trade streams soon led me to watch and enjoy many of his let’s plays of regular and hacked Pokemon games. Although he can be a bit loud and a teeny bit obnoxious during multiplayer battles, I enjoy his energy and always laugh when he rages at stuff. He’s also a pretty positive guy and never once seems bored or tired of going back to Pokemon time and time again. While he does have another channel with non-Pokemon games, it’s those LPs in particular that keep me coming back.

4. Helloween4545

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After all these years, I still feel Helloween4545 is a seriously underrated let’s player. He started out making horror LPs and has continued to focus on them to this day. He does occasionally play games that are technically outside of the genre, such as “Dark Souls” or “Nier,” but I’ve always preferred watching him play scary games. My fiance introduced me to him as well and I was into him well before Markiplier came along as my other main horror let’s player. Plus, he’s from Britain, and that adds to his brand of snark and rage. His sense of humor is also pretty quirky as he loves to poke fun at cliched tropes in games and talks to the characters as if they can hear him. I honestly hope that he gets more recognition than he already has, because he’s just a joy to watch/listen to.

3. Markiplier

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Speaking of the man himself, I was also introduced to Markiplier thanks to my fiance and I haven’t looked back since. While I do enjoy his silly skits and oddball videos at times, it’s his horror playthroughs that I enjoy the most. Mark’s often panicky and rage-filled reactions make me laugh, but I also love the moments when he’s genuinely happy just as much. He’s also a sentimental person like myself, and it’s always sweet that he does full-blown charity streams for those who need help. Plus, it’s heartwarming to see the love he has for his fans, his friends, and his adorable pup Chica. It was a no-brainer to put him on this list, but I can say placing him at this spot wasn’t an easy decision. I enjoy watching this man day by day and .

2. Game Grumps

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Again, placing these guys was a tough call, but this show is one of my biggest sources of entertainment on the entire internet. For me, it comes down to the dynamic of the hosts. I do like Ross, Barry, Brian, Suzy and everyone else involved with the show, but Arin and Danny are still who I think of when I think “Game Grumps.” I will always love and appreciate the early era when Jon was around, as without him the show probably wouldn’t exist and his dynamic with Arin was a lot of fun. I enjoy the bulk of Arin and Danny’s playthroughs and many of the jokes that sprung up from them. I get a kick out of Arin raging at dumb/hard games and adore Danny’s interesting life stories. I also love how encouraging they are to their audience as far as making animations, songs, artwork, etc. The show hasn’t slowed down since 2012 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

1. Jacksepticeye

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When I started compiling this list, I knew the number one spot had to be special. It had to be a let’s player/channel that, if I could only watch one person forever, would fit the bill. And for me, that person is Jacksepticeye. As much as I love everyone on this list and almost hated having to rank them, Jack and his channel encompass so many things to me. His let’s plays cover such a wide variety of games and genres that there’s something for everyone, and he puts his all into each one. He’s loud, funny and energetic, but I also adore his genuine and oftentimes heartfelt reactions to certain games. I especially appreciate his efforts to interact with his fans through his videos as well as social media. He has a humbleness about him that it still refreshing no matter how many subscribers he gains (16 million and counting!), and he’s always quick to point out how grateful he is to entertain so many people on a daily basis. He’s good at keeping a schedule too, so it’s easy to know when to expect videos from him. Plus, he’s Irish, and similar to Helloween, that makes his snark and occasional rage even funnier. But at the end of the day, the biggest reason I put Jack at number one is because of how positive he is. It’s easy to get caught up in negativity these days, and sometimes having an outside source of optimism can really help alleviate that. I tend to be a positive person myself, but it’s people like Jack that help me whenever that positivity wanes. I’m thankful to my fiance for introducing me to Mark, because without him, I might have never found Jack. So, as long as he’s still on YouTube, I’ll still be watching.

And that’s my top 7 list of my current fave let’s players! Do you agree, disagree, or have any faves different from mine? Feel free to tell me in the comments. Until next week!

My Top 10 Fave Cartoons To Date

So, once again, my fiance has issued me a Top 10 challenge. As you can see, this one will cover ten of my favorite cartoons up to this point in my life. I will say that I don’t normally think of these as topping each other, but for the sake of this list I tried my best to put things in a suitable order. Oh, and as a reminder, this list is based on my personal opinion and involves shows I’ve seen either all or enough of to consider putting here. I know everyone’s favorites differ, so feel free to share yours in the comments. Now, let’s start this countdown!

10. Ruby Gloom

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I had to include this show on the list for how cute and charming it is. If it wasn’t evident from the cast of characters, “Ruby Gloom” is a gothic-esque kids show that focuses on the group’s friendships. I love Ruby and every one of her friends for how different their personalities are whether they’re separated or together. The show also has great visuals and good doses of humor to boot. “Ruby Gloom” may be long over, but it’s criminally underrated and easily the best Canadian-made show I’ve seen in years.

9. The Fairly OddParents/Danny Phantom

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Even though I know “The Fairly OddParents” is still going (and isn’t as good as it once was), I still have fond memories of watching the show alongside episodes of “Danny Phantom.” Both shows have great senses of humor, but I also love how different they are. Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda get to have kooky, often nonsensical adventures and the use of magic allows for a lot of creativity. Meanwhile, Danny, Sam and Tucker get slightly more serious and very action-packed adventures with awesome ghost baddies to deal with. It’s cool how Butch Hartman created both and yet easily managed to make each show unique.

8. Lilo & Stitch: The Series

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As much as I liked “Aladdin: The Series” back in the day, I’d be remiss if I left this continuation of my favorite Disney movie off this list. “Lilo & Stitch: The Series” took the concept from the sequel film of finding the rest of Jumba’s experiments and turned each episode into a hunt for them. Many had a moral attached, but I loved how unique each experiment was in both their designs and abilities. Plus, I can’t get enough of Lilo, Stitch, and the gang, so this show was for me from the very start. I’d easily say it’s my favorite TV adaptation of a Disney movie yet.

7. Batman: The Animated Series

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What else can I say about this show that I haven’t already said? It’s still my favorite superhero cartoon (even though “Earth’s Mightiest” is pretty cool too) and is what got me into other serious cartoons like “Gargoyles.” To this day, I still consider Kevin Conway and Mark Hamill to be the most iconic portrayals of Batman and the Joker. As much as I’ve enjoyed the movie versions, these animated versions are who I think of when I picture those two characters. And who could forget the brilliant inclusion of Harley Quinn? This show was chock-full of great villains, a moody atmosphere, and many memorable episodes.

6. Kim Possible

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As much as I liked other girl-driven cartoons like “The Powerpuff Girls” (the original series) and “Pepper Ann,” this show always felt kinda similar to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for me. Well, only with a lot more goofiness and spy gadgets. I loved that although Kim often got a lot of focus as the lead, her sidekick/best friend-turned-boyfriend Ron still got his fair share of butt-kicking in as well. They were one of the best duos I’d seen in a cartoon and their enemies were often equal parts silly and threatening. For being a Disney show not based on an existing movie, this was everything I could’ve hoped for.

5. Avatar: The Last Airbender

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I know people still tend to forgot this show’s not an anime, but I think that’s a testament to just how good it is both from an animation and story standpoint. It knows just when to balance the humor with the more dramatic moments, and I enjoyed seeing how each of the main characters grew as the series went on. The animation is just gorgeous and leads itself well for when fight scenes occur, and they’re never hard to follow either. The whole use of elements is a neat idea and the world-building that’s set up within the show’s three seasons is really well done. Honestly, compared to the likes of real anime I’ve watched such as “Pokemon” or “Sailor Moon,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is far more entertaining to me.

4. The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show

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This is easily the most nostalgic entry on this list and for good reason. Without “The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show,” I might’ve never gotten into and enjoyed “Tiny Toon Adventures” and even “Animaniacs.” The Looney Tunes are still a staple in cartoon history and these series of shorts compiled into episodes is how I came to fall in love with them (especially Bugs, Daffy, and Wile E. Coyote). Even before I started to understand some of the more adult jokes, I liked the slapstick and getting to know each character’s personality. I feel like it may have helped shape my taste in humor and lead me to enjoy stuff like sketch comedy and improv skits. In my mind, it deserves to be in the top 5 for that alone.

3. Steven Universe

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Now we get to something more modern. “Steven Universe” is one of my favorite ongoing shows, though it did take me time to warm up to it at first. This was mainly due to it having a slower, fluffier start like “Adventure Time” did. But as the show went on, I enjoyed it more and more. The animation, especially during battles, is awesome and I love the Crystal Gems as both characters and concepts. The humor and plots can sometimes be hit or miss, but the show’s charm keeps bringing me back again and again. And I never thought I’d say this, but I adore most of the songs that pop up from time to time. It’s sometimes hard to incorporate songs into cartoons without them coming off cringe-y or obnoxious, but this show is pretty good at avoiding that. It may be the only cartoon on this list I’m currently watching, but “Steven Universe” is a show I’d highly recommend.

2. The Simpsons

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If you’ve read other entries of my blog, you know this was bound to be on the list. And yes, I know “The Simpsons” is not nearly as good as it once was (though I did enjoy the 2007 movie), but it holds a special place in my heart. Sure, the nostalgia of watching it during my childhood is a big factor, but I’ve always loved how the Simpsons as a family had a lot of heart. No matter how many plots involved Homer screwing up, Bart causing trouble, Lisa fighting for a good cause, or Marge trying out a new job/hobby, they always came together in the end and felt like a family. It’s for this reason I can’t stand shock humor “family” shows like “Family Guy” or “American Dad.” Granted, the Simpson family has had many missteps in these more recent seasons, and the show really does need to end some day. But despite “The Simpsons” being hit and miss now, I’ll always look back on those times when I regularly watched it with fond memories.

1. Gravity Falls

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“Gravity Falls” is, in my mind, the closest I’ve seen a cartoon come to being perfect. From the very first episode, this show hooked me and didn’t let go. And as it went on, I wanted to know all the secrets creator Alex Hirsch had up his sleeve. The show’s visual style sucked me in from the beginning, but it was the characters and interesting stories that made me stick around. The mystery element also had me intrigued, as not only was it a fun mystery to theorize about and follow, but it was also something I couldn’t recall seeing in a cartoon before. At least, not so thoroughly. For all their faults, I loved following Dipper, Mabel, Stan and the others and watching them deal with one weird situation after another. Oh, and I have to applaud Disney XD for not only letting Alex Hirsch end the show on his terms, but for also allowing him to include dark, crazy stuff like Bill Cipher in it. Even after the show ended, I was still obsessed to the point of wanting the book edition of Journal #3 and followed along online as people participated in Alex’s scavenger hunt last summer. To sum up, “Gravity Falls” is now what I picture when I think of not just a great modern cartoon but a great cartoon period.

And those are my picks for my top 10 favorite cartoons! Agree? Disagree? Again, feel free to say so in the comments. There are so many more I could’ve included, but I feel this list best reflects my taste in cartoons. Until next week!