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WandaVision; Frasier, Season 2 | Jurassic World | Dragon Age: Origins, "The Circle Tower"

Not everything is black and white


TV review - WandaVision | Episodes 1 and 2

Season summary: Wanda Maximoff and Vision - two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives -begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems. (IMDb)

I know little to nothing about early American sitcoms outside of watching a few episodes of Bewitched over twenty years ago, so I can't really speak to how accurately WandaVision portrays shows from the Fifties (episode 1) and the Sixties (episode 2). I will say that it at least lives up to what I imagine those shows were like, which is good enough for me.

Even ignoring that aspect to the show, this is genuinely a very good series so far, with Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany looking like they're having the time of their lives as Wanda and Vision. Despite the outdated settings, it's still very funny to watch and Bettany's Rik Mayall-esque performance as a 'drunk' Vision in episode 2 (after accidentally swallowing gum!) is simply fantastic.

It's not all laughs though, with the unsettling creep factor being dialled way up at various points to hint at the insanity surely in store later in the season. The dinner scene in episode 1, where Vision's boss, Mr Hart (Fred Melamed) starts choking kicks things off, with his wife (played by Debra Jo Rupp) only able to say 'stop it' over and over again while Wanda and Vision do nothing.

It starts off sounding like Mrs Hart is telling her husband to stop causing a scene, but her tone soon becomes a plea to Wanda despite the forced smile on her face. This is followed in episode 2 by a voice that may be familiar to those who've seen Ant-Man & The Wasp coming over a radio before it explodes in a burst of sparks. Then there's the adverts - featuring mentions of Stark and Strücker - that may be working their way through the traumas Wanda has undergone in the MCU.

I'll admit to being a hug fan of the MCU, but I was initially a little unsure about WandaVision due to the American sitcom format it seemed to be following and wondered if it would appeal to those without the required TV knowledge, but there's so much packed into each brief episode - practically every line serves at least two purposes - that I'm loving it so far and can't wait for it to continue.

Episode 1, "Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience" - [8/10]

Episode 2, "Don't Touch That Dial" - [9/10]

TV review - Frasier | Season 2

Season summary: Follows Dr. Frasier Crane's experiences as a radio psychiatrist and his efforts to get closer to his father and brother. (Wikipedia)

Frasier's second season is a little weird, not only because Kelsey Grammer still has the longer hairstyle of the first season, but because the show is still finding its feet a little and simultaneously feeling far more like 'classic' Frasier - especially David Hyde Pierce as Niles, using a different voice to the first season and feeling much more relaxed in the role.

There still haven't been any truly top class episodes from start to finish yet either, although they're getting there, with "The Show Where Sam Shows Up" (featuring Ted Danson appearing as his Cheers character, Sam Malone), "Daphne's Room" and "An Affair To Forget" being personal favourites. Plus, it is still Frasier after all, where the average quality of an episode tops most other shows' series bests.

It's also highly welcoming to see Peri Gilpin's Roz appear more prominently, especially her back-and-forth insults with Niles that are always brilliant and hilarious. It definitely helps the season feel more like what I remember the show as a whole to be. It also helps that Martin's (John Mahoney) rougher edges have been sanded off - there's still friction between him and the others at times, but nowhere near as often or as bad as it got in the first season.



Movie review - Jurassic World

Movie summary: A new theme park, built on the original site of Jurassic Park, creates a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, which escapes containment and goes on a killing spree. (IMDb)

I do like movies that can drop you into the action straight away and let you get to know the characters as you go - unfortunately, Jurassic World doesn't do that second part. All the main characters get brief introductory scenes to let you know who each one of them is in relation to each other, then disaster strikes pretty quickly and that's all the character work done with for the running time.

Honestly, you don't get to know anything more about any of the main characters than is required to simply move the story on to the next part, with the problem only being exacerbated by so many characters being introduced for a story that is also clearly intended to be the first part of yet another attempt at matching the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Even with such thinly-sketched characters, it's still easy to get annoyed with how many stupid decisions they make that are, yet again, only useful in progressing the plot. It isn't just the characters either, it's Jurassic World in general making some really strange choices about dinosaur behaviour or the really cruel, drawn-out death of a female character because... she was fed up having to look after her boss' nephews? Monstrous and entirely deserving of the worst death in the movie, I'm sure you'll agree.

Jurassic World is not a good movie and has very little to recommend about it, with even the ending of the movie effectively saying that the high-tech new creation doesn't stand up compared to the original effort. The characters have little to no depth or defining characteristics and there are so many dumb moments that make you wonder how this film got funded. But hey, the visual effects are great and the Jurassic Park theme is still as amazing as it always has been.



Game Play - Dragon Age: Origins | The Circle Tower

I'm going to keep these Dragon Age: Origins sections briefer now, just like the non-10/10 reviews, which is helped by this section not having a great deal of variety to it and being essentially one long section of unending combat. There are small scenarios that play out here and there, but most of the time was spent with Elissa, Sten, Leliana and Wynne - the newly-recruited healer - cutting down demons by the dozen.

The main thing to really talk about in this section is the Fade, where demons and spirits come from in-universe. Normally, there's a lengthy section playing through this weird dimension, taking advantage of shape-shifting magic to progress, but playing through it once was enough and I've always taken advantage of a 'skip the Fade' mod ever since.

It's hard to know whether to recommend the mod for first-time players, but I think I would have to edge towards saying that it should be used, as it will save a lot of time - most of which is spent controlling solely your Grey Warden as your team are off being entranced themselves. Using the mod still gives you all the skill points you'd normally acquire playing through it, plus you still have to fight the final demon, so you really aren't missing all that much.



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