Here we are at the end of the week. Five brand new episodes of Steven Universe have come and gone, and who knows when we’ll get more (for reference – the last chunk of episodes aired in September and October). Rebecca Sugar and her dedicated crew put great effort into these 55 minutes (give or take), and “Log Date 7 15 2” was an excellent way to cap it all off.
The last episode of Steven Universe – “It Could’ve Been Great” – ended on a bit of a cliffhanger: after realizing that Peridot (Shelby Rabara) may not be as on-board with the Crystal Gems as he thought she was, Steven (Zach Callison) watches her sneak off with a special communication device stolen from the Homeworld base on the moon. We were left wondering what this meant for her standing among Garnet (Estelle), Pearl (Deedee Magno), and Amethyst (Michaela Dietz), as well as what it meant for the Gems’ plan to destroy the dangerous weapon incubating within the planet. “Message Received” doesn’t hesitate to answer these questions.
No sooner do I lament the lack of Peridot’s (voiced by Shelby Rabara) presence in the recent episodes of Steven Universe, than Rebecca Sugar and her team provide the viewers with a heaping helping of the misanthropic Homeworld defector. And what writers Joe Johnston and and Jeff Liu have provided the audience with is exactly what the show needed at this mid-point in the week.
Steven Universe is back for another new episode. Following on the heels of “The Answer,” in which Garnet (Estelle) tells Steven (Zach Callison) her origin story as a birthday present, “Steven’s Birthday” sees the cast of characters celebrating the titular event with a party. Does it improve upon the previous episode? More importantly, how much of my personal rubric does it satisfy?
You hear people say “we’re in the Golden Age of television” all the time these days. Some have taken to calling our current climate “peak TV.” And while that descriptor certainly adheres to the recent influx in serialized dramas all over premium and basic cable, many argue you could apply the term to animation as well. I don’t buy in on many cartoons – even the ones geared towards adults can be hit-or-miss, especially when their entire shtick is the juxtaposition of a simple animated style with dirty jokes. But so many people – people I know personally, even – sing the praises of shows like Adventure Time or My Little Pony, so there must be some merit to these programs. Last year I took a chance on one such show – Steven Universe – mostly because the main character and I share a first name (and he spells it the correct way). I was skeptical at first, but irrepressible charm and catchy music eventually yielded love; and with a batch of new episodes premiering this week, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to write about a series that I have come to enjoy immensely.
My journey through Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies has led me to some interesting films that I might not otherwise have seen; Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy is a master work of Indian cinema, but I wouldn’t have gotten to it without help. Likewise with Broken Blossoms. Invariably these movies have been interesting for what they represent, even if I didn’t necessarily connect with them as much as Roger did. My tour guide through film shakes things up a bit now, however, recommending The Decalogue, a 1989 Polish television mini-series from director Krzysztof Kieślowki. Each of the ten episodes – co-written by Kieślowski and now-member-of-Polish-parliament Krzysztof Piesiewicz – features a different cast of characters in and around a large apartment building enacting one of the Ten Commandments – Roman Catholic-style. This type of cinematic television was not uncommon in Europe in the 70’s and 80’s, and its influence is now crossing the Atlantic with the new wave of prestige anthology series like True Detective and Fargo.
I love starting reviews with “I love (blank).” It’s an interesting trend because if you ask anyone who knows me, I really don’t love much. That’s not totally true, it’s just that I feel the need to vocalize negatives over positives. Anyway, that’s something I’ll have to work through with my analyst. It’s all a lead-up to the following, anyway: I loved Happy Endings. No qualifiers on that one; Happy Endings is (was, RIP) one of the best shows of the current decade. It was quick and smart and a pretty good encapsulation of my sense of humor as a slightly aimless, city-dwelling twenty-something. Other shows like How I Met Your Mother and New Girl are effective sitcoms, but Happy Endings hit like nothing else. So needless to say I was very bummed when the series was cancelled last year – a feeling that was slightly mitigated by the fact that three seasons was much more than the show’s ratings might have earned it. Good news for Endings-heads, however, as creator/executive producer David Caspe is back with a new series. And he has brought along Happy Endings-lead/his-real-life-wife Casey Wilson to star alongside Ken Marino in Marry Me.