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Netflix’s Dark is more than just another 21st century TV production, and I may be disappointing a past self by typing this. Lord knows I used to sneer at those who deemed things like Supernatural or Sherlock “an entire lifestyle” back in the Tumblr heyday, as though either property is groundbreakingly original or impenetrable (I’d argue their sheer popularity and accessibility says otherwise).

But when I place a show this high, asserting that a new bar for storytelling has been set (both in terms of thematic scope and convoluted plotting), I await a damn good reason. What we have here is unprecedented; a remedy for all the shows that established in-universe rules only to break them when convenient, and asked several eerie in-universe questions (that may make us ponder our own universe as well) without giving us sufficient closure – this one goes out to all the fans of Game of Thrones and Lost out there.

Dark confirms that consistency and sufficient closure/answers aren’t unfair demands. I do appreciate the defiance of fan expectation as seen in Twin Peaks: The Return, but this proves it’s possible. That said, there may still be mysteries to ponder (particularly things that characters within the show cannot possibly comprehend anyhow and thus aren’t really bothersome) and blanks within certain character timelines (perhaps an addendum à la The Final Dossier will suffice). This is especially true after certain Season 3 additions that, unless I’ve missed something, seem hand-wavey.

All the same, I got what I’ve come to expect – my only other complaints involve repetitive dialogue and the rushed way that certain events are reiterated/retold; it doesn’t always get to breathe the way it should. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have minded an extra episode or two.

This is a show where every single element just works: the way the casting keeps the countless character connections (some of which defy Time as we know it) in mind, the way the music is used, the way it’s shot, the way it’s edited to help us see the ties, the way the actors do justice the existential dread of the show’s implications, the way almost no subplot feels wholly irrelevant to the larger themes/story, and of course, the way it avoids contradictions and so makes us believe in time travel, hence making us ask questions about ourselves. Lastly, it is absolutely worth rewatching.

Again, fandoms say this about their faves regularly. But watching Dark a second time, with an awareness of the characters’ futures, is literally a part of the themes, adding new emotional weight to scenes that, on the initial binge, will seem merely mysterious. Another famous saying amongst fandoms is “What will I do without this show?” but it rarely follows a whole new standard being set. I, for one, don’t need another Dark. I think it serves the themes to simply watch this one again and again for all time.

4/5

‘Artemis Fowl’ Review

This one’s worth skipping.

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‘Operation Avalanche’ Review

This one I recommend.

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‘Solaris’ (1972)

by Andrei Tarkovsky

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Andrei Tarkovsky takes his sweet time, allowing his biting metaphysical musings to properly sink in. His 1979 film Stalker made us question if it is truly possible to know oneself (one character mentions a man who entered a sort of wish-granting room to try to revive his dead brother, but was instead given a bunch of money and other material joys). With Solaris, the Soviet legend also questions what it means to know anyone at all – as usual, this is communicated through original, delightfully otherworldly science fiction. View full article »

Making fun of hypocrisy is hilarious, but it can often be a fool’s game. This is because, in this writer’s opinion, nobody on God’s vaguely green Earth is an absolutist – including those who say they are (just about everyone makes exceptions to their own rules and think that Bad Thing X is actually okay when they do it). That’s the thing, though: there are indeed those who profess that their logic is impeccable and also the objectively correct one. In those cases, it can be fun to point out scenarios where they very clearly choose not to apply it. Me, I’ve decided to stop making fun of people and instead help them out; let them know when they should NOT be using a certain thought process that is more politically convenient to apply elsewhere, lest they seem too logically consistent. God forbid.

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When I get wearier of everyone’s shit than usual, I like to disconnect from the human world for a sec and try to describe, in the way a space-traveling computer might attempt to, the things that “just make sense” to us – things that must be true and morally correct because they’ve been the way they are for a sufficiently long time and we’ve been raised to take them as axiomatic. Call him Robo-me. View full article »

‘Plandemic’ Review

plandemic

This one works as punishment.

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‘Scoob!’ Review

This one’s worth skipping.

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A truly creative show understands what sort of unseen images you can create when unbound by reality. In the case of The Shivering Truth, a relatively new show on Adult Swim, stop-motion animation is used to its utmost potential of grotesque and surreal creativity. It’s nowhere near reality, yet it might also have gotten to the bottom of it.

In some ways, I have compared the show to Netflix’s The Midnight Gospel, which sets surreal CalArts animation (in lieu of a better term for the recently popularized Adventure Time style often found under the CalArts umbrella) to the philosophical musings of Duncan Trussell – it is essentially an animated podcast à la The Ricky Gervais Show, only with heavier themes, e.g. what humans would really be conversing about once the end of the world drew near. Alas, that one has often been dismissed as simply reciting Philosophy 101 and “basic” musings in a way where you’re supposed to suck on a blunt and nod at the insisted poignancy (according to Dave Trumbore’s review).

I don’t know that The Shivering Truth can be discounted quite so easily. Much like Xavier: Renegade Angel, another deceptively simple-looking Vernon Chatman piece, it can be enjoyed as a brief episode of comedic rapid-fire nonsense, but all of its symbolism and visual punnery cries out to be painstakingly analyzed in terms of its commentary on spiritualism, society, humanity, existence in general, or even the very idea of worrying about these topics. The animation of The Shivering Truth visualizes Chatman’s supposedly random ramblings, but after one gets done laughing at the imaginitive dream logic, one might wonder what Chatman’s subconscious has tapped into that the rest of us haven’t discovered yet.

When I reviewed Xavier: Renegade Angel, I made the case that it manages to say more in its mad-yet-brilliant comedy than Rick and Morty or Bojack Horseman managed in any of their serious interludes (being annoyingly preachy can be a lot less effective in communicating ideas than, say, peppering an eye-popping piece of comedy with heavy symbolism). The newly kicked-off season of The Shivering Truth proves that Chatman’s still got it – even if I may not be evolved enough to know what “it” is.

5/5

‘5G Zombies’ Review

This one works as punishment.

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