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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2020 Television Awards – Part 3

And now, please enjoy Part 3 of this year’s television awards. (Check out Part 1 and Part 2.)


This season’s most noticeable trend: COVID-19 Finale Alterations

The Blacklist — NBC

Though a lot of shows weren’t impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown (as filming had already been completed on all episodes), many shows had to shorten their seasons anywhere from one to five episodes, depending on their production schedule. While most of these shows, especially sitcoms and procedurals, had the luxury of simply ending their seasons early (without major cliffhangers to satisfy us until next season), some had to change or alter their story arcs to condense the season accordingly, leading to mixed results. The Blacklist had to complete what would end up being their finale with animation that in many ways distracted from what was actually happening (I would like to see them finish this episode once production starts again and then re-air it as it was meant to be seen); New Amsterdam completely removed an episode that introduced a new character due to the nature of the content (which they say will be aired eventually… we’ll see; at least The Resident didn’t shy away from their virus-themed episodes); Prodigal Son condensed a few of their storylines to make sure they could get the finale they wanted and did a fantastic job in delivering the finale they intended without losing any of the show’s integrity; and Supergirl, somehow pulled off a win by throwing some of the footage it filmed for its final episode into episode 19, which then served as its season finale.

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2020 Television Awards – Part 2

Read on for Part 2 of this year’s Television Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).

Cutest Creature: The Child, Star Wars: The Mandalorian

The Child (The Mandalorian)

The moment this little creature peeks out of the blanket in his little hover pod, you automatically want one of your own! If that wasn’t enough, during the next episode we get to see him walk, play, eat an entire frog whole like a duck and prove his worth with force power. The puppetry (which we later learn in Disney+’s Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian was performed by five separate puppeteers) was outstanding, giving the little guy the perfect amount of curiosity, emotion and carefree attitude that proved that the Mandalorian had a soft side under the hard exterior of his bounty hunter predilections. From saving his friends from a flamethrower to sipping soup while watching his new father-figure fight, the Child (who was instantly and affectionately dubbed “Baby Yoda”) became a favorite among hardcore and non-hardcore Star Wars fans alike.

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Chaos Breeds Chaos 2020 Television Awards – Part 1

Despite COVID-19 stopping nearly all production in Hollywood for months on end, the show must go on. That’s right, the Emmy’s air this Sunday as normal (well, as normal as it can be), which means it’s time again for my annual TV Awards! (See previous Awards – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)

Not only was there plenty of shows to choose from on network TV, new streaming platforms, including Disney+, Quibi and Peacock, made their debuts, adding more content then we could possibly view unless we spent 24/7 on our couches… which, come to think of it, isn’t out of the realm of possibility these days. So, as always, over the next two days we’ll grant awards, good and bad, to over twenty series, compiling several actors, scenes and moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the tumultuous season.


Best New Series: The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian — Disney+

Is it the hype? Is it my bias for everything Star Wars? Or is it simply because The Mandalorian was just that good? I think it may be a little of everything, but that’s why this show became the cherry on top of the 2019-2020 season. The Mandalorian had a lot riding on its shoulders, being the show that would basically make or break the launch of Disney+, and yet, Jon Favreau (together with animated Star Wars vet Dave Filoni) was up to the task, matching (maybe even exceeded) all the hype with terrific direction, an incredible score, streamlined stories that still had enough meat even if they didn’t completely move the story forward, and the most scene-stealing character this side of Boo. Better yet, it did what no other Star Wars property since Empire Strikes Back has been able to do — unite all Star Wars fans for the good by taking the essence of George Lucas’s vision and creating something entirely new and fresh. By mixing the use of old-school practical effects with new world-building computer-based technology, it gave everyone a visually-stunning piece of artwork that no one wanted to see end. At a scant twenty to thirty minutes per episode, The Mandalorian didn’t feel like it was enough to fulfill our weekly Star Wars fix, yet was exactly the amount we needed. If you haven’t guessed yet, I can’t wait for the next season.

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Excerpt From the Novel “Year of the Songbird”

The following is an excerpt from my novel, Year of the Songbird, written in 2012 that I felt extremely relevant to what is currently happening in the world today. The story takes place several years in the future and follows a young blind girl who is lured away from her home with the promise of sight, only to learn about the horrific history of what lead to World War III. I wrote the novel based on the political climate at the time and where I thought things might go if nothing changed.

CAUTION: The following speech/account is made by a character in the novel who is meant to be a hard-core racist, bigoted SOB (one who only became this way after watching what happened to his family during the war for which he speaks). It includes language that may be inappropriate for younger readers, as well as derogatory terms and generalizations that, taken out of context with the entirety of the novel, may feel insensitive to some.

READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

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Movie Mayhem – Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl — 2020; Directed by Kenneth Branagh; Starring Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad, Nonso Anozie and Colin Farrell

It’s been almost three months since my last movie review due to the coronavirus pandemic shuttering theaters back on March 17. Although there have been a handful of movies (Trolls, Scoob! and The Lovebirds) that skirted their big screen release dates to premiere as streaming service rentals over the last couple of months, the price for entry was a bit too high for my blood for these particular films.

Had Artemis Fowl followed suit, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second look either, despite the fact that I would have gone to see all of them in the theaters. Disney, however, decided the already delayed film about a young boy who learns that the world of fairies and other magical creatures he’s been studying from a young age is actually real when his father is kidnapped, was best suited to help bolster Disney+. Thanks to The Mandalorian and all the upcoming Marvel series, I’m already a subscriber to the fledgling streaming service, so this was a perfect opportunity to get back on the review train.

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Movie Mayhem – Bloodshot

Bloodshot — 2020; Directed by Dave Wilson; Starring Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, and Lamorne Morris

Vin Diesel’s got the perfect vocal range for supplying voices to animated creatures like an iron giant or a massive tree, but as an on-screen personality, he just isn’t all that captivating to me. I didn’t care for the Riddick or XXX films, nor do I find much of what he does outside of fast cars worth watching. (And let’s face it, the Fast and Furious franchise didn’t get interesting until they added a Rock with a dose of logic melting, physics shattering action sequences.) Bloodshot is yet another attempt for Diesel to appear relevant. And though the film is better than most of his non-Fast adventures, it’s only because the supporting cast makes the whole intriguing premise pass muster.

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Movie Mayhem – Onward

Onward — 2020; Directed by Dan Scanlon; Starring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Proatt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Kyle Bornheimer and Tracey Ullman

When John Lasseter started Pixar, he made a commitment to only make movies that had a strong foundation. That meant he would only put films into production that had a great script. Some may say this hasn’t always been the case (see: Cars 2 or The Good Dinosaur), but for the majority of films produced by the animation stalwart over the last twenty-five years, the promise for strong stories and characters has flourished, even after Lasseter was forced out of the company. This tradition continues with Onward, where everything that’s made Pixar the king of animation is on full display.

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Movie Mayhem – The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man — 2020; Directed by Leigh Whannell; Starring Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman and Aldis Hodge

The invisible man has been around since H.G. Wells first gave him life in 1897, an idea which has culminated in dozens of film and television iterations throughout various genres. The most famous are of course the original 1933 version (part of Universal’s original monster universe that spawned two sequels), Chevy Chase’s comedic-oriented Memoirs of the Invisible Man, and Kevin Bacon’s horror/thriller Hollow Man. Other than the main character somehow becoming invisible, the only thing that connects most of these iterations is the heavy focus on the trials and tribulations of the person that becomes invisible.

This is where writer and director Leigh Whannell smartly separates his version of The Invisible Man from the rest of the pack. Instead of putting the spotlight on the person who becomes invisible, Whannell focuses all of his attention on the victim of the invisible. By doing so, the film becomes more atmospherically chilling, adding a heavy psychological element that raises the level of the story to fresh, new heights.

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Movie Mayhem – The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild — 2020; Directed by Chris Sanders; Starring Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Cara Gee, and Dan Stevens

As a big proponent for the use of practical effects over computer-generated effects, I was highly disenchanted by the trailer for The Call of the Wild. When filmmakers use CGI as a crutch, it tends to make the viewer numb to the emotional stakes of the film. There is a place for CGI, no doubt. When used to enhance what physically cannot be created or to perform tasks that may be too dangerous otherwise, it can be quite effective; when used for no other reason than because it’s there, even though something real or practical could do the job just as well (and sometimes even better), it becomes unnecessary imitation.

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Movie Mayhem – Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog — 2020; Directed by Jeff Fowler; Starring James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub and Ben Schwartz

Movies based on video games have gotten a bad reputation… and for good reason. When you try to translate a video game to a film, you inherently strip away the ability to tell the same expansive story that a video game can encompass as well as what makes the game so much fun — interactivity. For Sonic the Hedgehog, the latest video game adaptation to hit the big screen, it didn’t help that early trailers for the film got massive push back because of Sonic’s less-than-stellar character design. Paramount listened, though, and made the necessary changes to give fans what they demanded. So how does Sonic the Hedgehog hold up against its small-screen counterpart?

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