Monday, December 30, 2013

2013’s Worst Stuff

I try not to bitch as much as I used to on Needless Things. I want to be entertaining, not a drag. But this is the one post where I can be a cranky old asshole and complain for 1,000 words (or more).

In the original version of this introduction I ranted about my shitty job, my work schedule, and even political stuff. But I don’t want to do that. As much as I hate my job and how it sucks a little bit more of my soul away every single day, I am glad to have a source of income; especially one that pays as well as it does for a guy whose skills include writing about toys and standing in a wrestling ring with a microphone.

As for the political stuff, my family has been hit hard by a lot of the changes the government has forced over the past few years. But I don’t get political here and I don’t want to start. I’ve been needing to blow this steam off for over a year now, but Needless Things isn’t the place.

Now that all of that is out of the way I want to talk about stuff that sucked this year. There wasn’t actually that much, and I had a tough time putting this list together. I mean, I’m sure there was a ton of shitty shit in 2013, but I must once again point out my ability to avoid things that suck. I am not a man that takes a whole lot of chances, so my opportunities to be exposed to things that are outright awful are limited. But I still managed to find a few things that seemed worthy of ranting about.

I am not necessarily sticking to the “Worst” format here. I’m just running through all of the shitty things I can think of.

Worst Thing I Saw on TV –
Lady Gaga and The Muppets Christmas Special

This was a shameful and embarrassing event and I wish I had never seen it. Even thinking about it now I can’t believe it happened. I didn’t watch the whole thing, but in the fifteen or so minutes I did watch – just to convince myself that what I was seeing was real – Lady Gaga was more than half naked twice and performed one song about fucking where the word “fuck” actually had to be bleeped out while Muppets were dancing in front of her.
I don’t have a problem with Lady Gaga. Her music isn’t my thing, but like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson before her, she has made money off of shocking people. Good for her. If you don’t like it, don’t watch. But combining her blasphemy and sexuality with the traditionally family-friendly Muppets is not acceptable, and I can’t imagine Jim Henson would have approved. Elton John didn’t even look all that happy about it.
Look – when you have to schedule a special starring the Muppets to start after 9 PM because of content, something is seriously wrong.

Worst Decline of a TV Show –
The Following

I absolutely loved the pilot for this show. And not just because of the appearance by Award-Winning Pulp Sensation Bobby Nash. I thought Kevin Bacon was phenomenal, the rest of the cast was great, and the story was fantastic. But James Purefoy just was not convincing as the cult leader. And the federal agents in the show were living down to Deborah Morgan’s description of them – “Fucking Blind Idiots”. As the season progressed, the villain’s plans succeeding owed less to his criminal prowess and more to the FBI being absolute morons. And the more of Purefoy I saw, the less convinced I was that anybody would accept him as some sort of iconic leader, especially not the progressively more influential and powerful people that were being revealed as members of his cult. Mrs. Troublemaker hung in for about six episodes and I think I toughed it out for eight. I hear Purefoy’s character (spoiler alert) didn’t make it to the second season, so I might check it out again.

Worst Television Pilot –
The Originals

I watched this with the intention of writing a review. It didn’t happen. I fell asleep about ten minutes in, rewound it, and fell asleep again. I couldn’t understand anything that was going on, the acting was atrocious, and I couldn’t find one person in the entire cast that I didn’t want to see thrown into a wood chipper, let alone one I could root for in any way. I know this is a spinoff of the CW’s unintentional comedy The Vampire Diaries, but you shouldn’t really need a whole lot of background from the source show to enjoy a spinoff.

Worst Thing I Saw That I Thought Was Going to Be Great –
"The Time of the Doctor”

If you listen to Earth Station Who – and you should – then you know that I am one of the people that is ready for Steven Moffat’s time on Doctor who to come to an end. I feel that he is guilty of one of my least favorite tricks – coming up with huge, awesome plot points but neglecting to surround them with a narrative that makes sense. Basically, he abuses the fuck out of “Because Doctor Who”. While there have been moments of excellence and brilliance throughout Moffat’s run, I have been confused and/or disappointed far too much. So I had no right to expect greatness out of Matt Smith’s final story.
But then The Day of the Doctor happened and it was brilliant. There were a couple of small, niggling things that didn’t quite sit right with me, but overall it was a fantastic Anniversary special – the huge event I wanted.
Now, I knew very well that “The Time of the Doctor” would not be the same sort of event. But the excellent scripting and clever storytelling of the Fiftieth Special made me think that we would at least witness a fitting end to the Eleventh (or whatever) Doctor’s run.
Not so much.
I won’t do a full review here because this is just an entry in a glorified list and also because I covered it pretty thoroughly on ESW 58, but here’s a few of the problems I saw:
  • The Doctor just sat in Christmas and let people die rather than doing anything to try and stop the ceaseless invasion attempts. How many innocents died during the hundreds of years he spent fixing toys? And don’t tell me he was crippled by the loss of the TARDIS. That’s stupid. Jon Pertwee, anybody?
  • I did not approve of all of the talk of nudity or of the sexual overtones of the Church of the Mainframe. Those things were off-putting and did nothing to advance the plot or entertain in the context of a family-friendly TV show.
  • Once again we had Clara saving the day while the Doctor just gave up.
  • Other than that, however, Clara was useless and almost a nuisance.
  • The Doctor seemed very stupid throughout the story. From showing up on the Dalek and Cybermen ships (how the blazes did he not recognize that as a Dalek ship!?!) to the whole thing with the turkey. It was very out-of-character for one of the cleverest Doctors we’ve seen.
  • While I appreciated Moffat’s mad dash to tie up the many unresolved plot lines from his run thus far, it was all jumbled and compressed. The whole story felt like it was rushed and the drama felt very artificial; one of Moffat’s signature problems – “Feel this way because I tell you to, not because I have given you any reason to”.
I could go on, but I won’t. I’ve watched this twice now and disliked it just as much – if not more – the second time. I do, however, have to admit that the final scene in the TARDIS was fantastic and gave me what I wanted from the regeneration itself. I’m very excited to see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, but I wish he were under a different showrunner’s guidance.

Worst Toy Line –
Doctor Who by Character Options/Underground Toys

No – of course I don’t want to have two Doctor Who-related things in this post.
I was massively disappointed when CO announced that they were switching scales for their modern Doctor Who toy line. But – like any good sucker fan – I bought the new figures anyway. I couldn’t help myself.
While the new toys aren’t actually faulty or defective in any way, they simply aren’t up to the standards of other 3 ¾” or 4” scale lines I collect. I can’t actually complain too much about the monster figures. The Cyberman, Dalek, and Ice Warrior were quite good. The smaller scale TARDIS was excellent. But the Doctor and Clara were bad. And they’re the main characters.
I suppose my claim that this is the worst line comes mostly from not liking the change of scale. I have four shelves’ worth of 5” scale Doctor who toys and I am very disappointed that I won’t be adding any further modern characters to them. But I will say – if the quality of the new scale had been on par with Star Wars or GI Joe I probably wouldn’t have eBayed the whole set.

Worst Online Store –

Once again, Matty is the champion of failure. Things weren’t so bad this year, but only because I didn’t order very many things outside of my subscriptions. The website is still full of flaws and the communication with sub customers is unacceptable. I am paying these people tons of money and I expect them to communicate with me directly about things that affect my subs or preorders. Updates via Facebook or their terrible forums are not acceptable. Add to that ridiculous shipping prices and sales methods that border on extortion and… well, I look pretty stupid for renewing my subscriptions every year.

Worst Movie – John Dies At the End

I love Don Coscarelli. Beastmaster and Bubba Ho-Tep are among my favorite movies. I have a Phantasm tattoo on my right forearm and count those movies as some of the most influential on my pop culture lifestyle and preferences. In addition to that, I was very excited about John Dies At the End. I wanted to read the book quite badly, but as I have noted before, my reading time is extremely limited. I just never got around to it.
Me and the missus were both stoked to see the movie in the OnDemand listings as one of those special “Same Day as Theaters” deals. It was $9.99, but we didn’t care. We had both been following the production and couldn’t wait to see what Coscarelli had in store this time.
About twenty minutes in I turned to Mrs. Troublemaker and said, “This isn’t very good, is it?”
She was asleep. I hung in there to watch the whole thing because I had spent ten bucks on it and also because I was so sure that it would pick up and get awesome. It never did. There were some great visuals and Paul Giamatti was great, but I hated the protagonists and the story was… well, not really a story. And this is from a guy that loves Cronenberg’s The Naked Lunch. John Dies just didn’t have a hook for me.
Keep in mind – this is my pick for worst movie I saw this year. There were much worse movies, but I didn’t see them. Except for Sharknado. But I didn’t expect anything out of Sharknado, so when I was entertained it actually ended up being a pleasant experience.

Worst Song –
What Does the Fox Say?”
by Some French Asshole

I managed to go most of the year without hearing this loathsome piece of crap. Then, at the Monkeys’ annual Christmas party, I happened into a room full of white people dancing to very bad music. I think this is a thing exclusive to white people, so that if we are seen dancing badly we can act like we were being all ironic or something. Anyway, one of the songs that came on was this trash boat.
I was aware of its existence through the magic of internet memes, but I was never sure exactly what it was. As the nightmarish sound of this “song” assaulted my ears, it was explained to me that some French talk show host had recorded this and it was the equivalent of Jay Leno recording a song and releasing it in France. Or something. I was told not to fall for it, as if there was any danger of that happening.
I would like to make a proposal in response to this song. I want to record a song and video called “What Does Jay Leno’s Ass Say?”. My close, personal acquaintance Jim Stacy is close, personal acquaintance s with Jay Leno, so I think with enough grassroots support (whatever that means) we could make this happen. And send it to France.

Worst Action Figure –
Masters of the Universe Classics
By Mattel

I know there are plenty of people out there that like this figure and think he was a good choice, but I think those people are stupid.
He would’ve been fine in the Filmation line, which – shockingly – did not have a single dud. But for the main line which is supposed to be consist of the most desired characters, Plundor is a complete and utter fail. I am not saying that from a character standpoint. I don’t remember his episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and I don’t care to. And I don’t give a shit that Paul Dini created this big, stupid thing. Plundor looks ridiculous, only appeared once, and is so far my pick for the second worst production choice of the entire MOTUC line (the Star Sisters are first; and no – the stupid tank/space/dildo hat He-Man isn’t on the list because I actually think he was a great choice for an SDCC Exclusive because I didn’t have to buy him).

Worst Restaurant – Uncle Julio’s

We had the ESO TimeGate Dinner at a place called Uncle Julio’s this year. It was bad. You can read about it here. The wait staff were quite friendly, but the food fell just shy of being not very good. It’s probably my fault – I decided to try something new and order frog legs. They were terrible. Easily one of the most unsatisfying meals I have ever had in my life. I have since been told that Uncle Julio’s frog legs are bad frog legs, but I’ll never know because I can’t imagine voluntarily ordering frog legs again after that.


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