Showing posts with the label Season

Happy!: Season 1 (2017 - 2018)

I vaguely recall hearing some positive buzz when this came out, but because it premiered on a cable station as opposed to streaming, it wasn't really on my radar. I'm honestly a little surprised it took this long for someone to point me towards this. Setting aside the fact the tone and style are right up my alley, the first season is entirely set at Christmas, which is obviously why we're discussing it here. I'm glad I finally got a chance to watch this - it'd rank this on my list of favorite genre TV seasons in recent history. As to what genre... well.. that's where things get complicated, because the first season of Happy! isn't easily described. It's an adaptation of a Dark Horse comic book written by Grant Morrison, who also seems to have been heavily involved in the show. I've never read the comics, but I might have to track them down, if only to confirm or falsify some theories. There's sort of a vein in comics that plays with the fact the

The Santa Clauses, Season 1 (2022)

Well, I didn't entirely hate it, which makes this my favorite installment in the Santa Clause franchise by a wide margin. To be fair, I haven't seen the trilogy this is sequeling since reviewing them, which was between nine and twelve years ago, so it's possible I'd have a more favorable reaction now. Possible, but unlikely: the stuff I recall disliking about those movies isn't the kind that tends to age well. Regardless, the new Disney+ limited series picks up in real time, sixteen years after the end of the third movie. Santa and Mrs. Claus have two kids: Buddy (who was born at the end of the third movie) and Sandra. Mrs. Claus - or Carol, as she used to be called - is going through an identity crisis, Buddy dreams of seeing the human world, Sandra seems completely uninterested in anything that isn't an animal or a witch, and - due to declining Christmas spirit - Santa's magic seems to be failing. When he learns about a "Secessus Clause" which wo

Hawkeye: Season 1 (2021)

So far, the Disney+ MCU shows have been something of a mixed bag. I don't think any have been awful, but the level of quality has fluctuated wildly from series to series, with WandaVision being by far the best and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier being the most disappointing. Good or bad, they've all boasted impressive production values and have all delivered some of the quippy dialogue that's become a hallmark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hawkeye joins Iron Man 3 in sporting a Christmas setting. Between the two, I think Hawkeye makes better use of the holidays -  in Iron Man 3, it mainly just felt like a callback to the director's filmography. Here, it serves to heighten the tension, tie in to themes of family, build up a sense of the surreal, and... well... okay, it's also kind of making a bunch of allusions to Shane Black movies, but it's not like I mind. Of course, the Christmas setting also means it's fair game here, so let's dig into the sec

Blown Away: Christmas (2021)

Netflix had been pushing this on me for a while, and I thought, well, I haven't watched any mediocre reality competition shows this year yet, why not? And that's more or less what I got: a mediocre reality competition show with some pretty art and a few weird, possibly unpleasant quirks. Apparently there have been two seasons of this glass-blowing competition show before this, and this holiday event invited five previous competitors to come back for another shot - so far, so normal for a special (or in this case, a special short season). The host for these four episodes is Bobby Berk of Queer Eye, while professor Katherine Gray is the judge.  The first thing I want to say is that, despite the show's attempts to sneak in little captions or asides that explain specific techniques or tools, I found the footage of the actual glass blowing surprisingly boring. I didn't see enough of any one piece to be able to follow it from inception to completion, and the pieces in progres

'Tis the Season: A New Medium

We've been reviewing Christmas movies, specials, books, episodes - God, you name it - for more than a decade now, and granted, a lot has changed. Overall, we've seen both an increase in quality and quantity, a wider variety of subgenres represented, and a more global pool of customs being drawn from. But one of the most noteworthy changes in holiday media is one I'm not seeing discussed. I refer to the advent of the Christmas television series or season as a medium. On one hand, this is to be expected. Streaming functions differently than traditional TV. It has different goals and different limitations, and those result in drastically different kinds of programming. Traditional TV favored weekly, episodic stories that could maintain casual viewers: streaming platforms know you can (and generally will) start from the beginning and watch every episode (at least until you get bored). Even shows that maintain weekly releases are typically fewer episodes in length, since the inc

Santa Inc.: Season 1 (2021)

Santa Inc. is one of those pieces of media I feel I need a disclaimer before reviewing, as it feels like it was intended to be viewed while high. As I watched this sober, my opinion may be skewed. I should note Santa Inc. is an 8-episode stop-motion series streaming on HBO Max. The premise, as implied by the title, concerns a corporate version of Santa's operation, staffed by magic creatures but (mostly) operating in a capitalist paradigm. If you're planning to watch this, be aware it's intended for mature audiences (though in my experience, shows made for mature audiences tend to be the least mature). I suspect there are plans to continue the series, though I have no idea whether this will build the buzz needed to justify that (I'm guessing between the animation and cast it's not cheap to produce). To be safe, I'm labeling this as "Season 1." Seth Rogen voices Santa, or at least the current holder of that title. He's not actually the main characte

Nisser [Elves] (2021)

Nisser is a Danish TV series, just six half-hour episodes long, released as "Elves" in the US. It looks and feels a lot like Stranger Things, both in terms of tone and content, which is both a recommendation and a warning not to watch this with young children (teenagers used to horror should be alright, though - this is scary, not terrifying). The premise is rooted in European folklore and tradition, and while the creatures here have been updated with a modern aesthetic, their portrayal isn't entirely subversive. Traditionally, nisser aren't typically this scary or monstrous, but the older stories about them tend to get dark. I'm going to have a lot - and I mean A LOT to say about this, as well as the US title, but I'll save that for the end, so readers bored by the nerdy stuff have the option of checking out. First, a spoiler warning. This isn't one of the cases where the impact depends on some kind of major twist, but I'll be going over the plot in a

Hjem til Jul 2/Home for Christmas: Season 2 (2020)

In a lot of ways, the second season of Hjem til Jul (Home for Christmas, in English), feels more like the sequel to a movie than a continuing television series, despite technically picking up the instant the first season ended. To be fair, season 1 ended on a cliffhanger with Johanne answering the door and smiling as she sees... someone... who surprises her. That someone, it turns out, isn't someone she knows but is instead a flower delivery person carrying 100 roses, the origins of which form something of a mystery through the season. More immediately, she later encounters a coworker and the two date for a year, the story of which is presented over the course of the first episode. The relationship is nice at first, but by next Christmas, they've grown distant. Meanwhile, Johanne's parents are having their own issues, and it appears they'll spend Christmas apart, leaving the family without a spot to gather and celebrate. Johanne refuses to concede the holidays, so she d

Hjem til Jul/Home for Christmas: Season 1 (2019)

Hjem til Jul is a Netflix-produced Norwegian semi-romantic Christmas comedy/drama series. As is becoming more and more common, it's produced as a solid block of Christmas entertainment, almost like they surgically removed a holiday episode, regrew it into a full organism, and discarded the rest. Alternatively, you could think of this as a movie that got chopped into episode-length pieces. That might be more accurate in some ways: Hjem til Jul's seasons are six episodes, each approximately 30-minutes long, so at plus-or-minus three hours, it's still within movie-length (though admittedly twice as long as you'd typically find within this genre). Be aware said movie would definitely be rated R. The humor is at times crass and explicit, and while the vast majority of the dialogue is in Norwegian, speakers occasionally switch to English to drop an F-bomb. This review is going to cover the first season - I'll do the second at a later time. Also, I guess there's a thir

Dash & Lily: Season 1 (2020)

Dash & Lily is an 8-episode-long Netflix series set entirely around the holidays. Now that binge-able shows are the norm, I suppose it was inevitable that these would start popping up (I speculated as much while talking about season 3 of Fargo last year). I'll acknowledge I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around what Dash & Lily is, or at least what it's best described as. At the time I'm writing this, I don't know for sure if it's intended as a limited series, the first season of an ongoing show, or what. But even beyond that, it kind of exists in a gray area between television and film. It doesn't conform to either medium, but rather incorporates elements as needed. Which is great, honestly. I sometimes think we get overly attached to conventions to the point that entertainment is forced into boxes it doesn't belong in. The vast majority of what defines a "television show" or a "theatrical film" is based on the limita

Fargo: Season 3 (2017)

The following is a review. The season being reviewed originally aired on FX between April and June of 2017. At the request of those who haven't seen the show, this review will keep spoilers to an absolute minimum. Out of respect for the series's creator and stars, the descriptions and discussions that are included will be presented as accurately as possible. ------------ Only this isn't just a review: it's a murder scene. The victim is in their late seventies, and the manner of death was asphyxiation. They may have gone by several names throughout their life, but around here they were known as the "Christmas episode." In life, they were a concept of an episodic holiday installment of a television series. They stood out from their peers in only one respect: they were set at or about Christmas. Anything else could change. Maybe they were a self-contained narrative, or maybe they were an episodic installment of a longer series playing out in real time.

Nailed It! Holiday! (2018)

Nailed It! Holiday! is the third season of a tongue-in-cheek baking game show streaming on Netflix. The title and premise reference the meme in which abject artistic failures attempted by amateurs are ironically celebrated. In keeping with that theme, each episode (with one exception) features three amateur bakers who compete for $10,000 cash. We watched through all seven episodes in this holiday-themed season. I know we typically break these out into episode-by-episode chunks, but the structure doesn't change from one to the next, and - aside from a few thematic shifts and guest judges - there's not a lot to discuss. With a few exceptions, everything kind of blends together. I'll get to those exceptions in a moment, but first I want to touch on the season (and presumably series, though these are the only episodes I've seen) as a whole. To its credit, it's nowhere near as negative as the premise implies. Yes, the contestants are trying (and failing) to recreat

Stranger Things: Season 1 (2016)

Let's get this out of the way - in the opinion of Mainlining Christmas, season one of Stranger Things does not technically qualify as an Christmas story, nor does any single episode feature the holidays to a significant extant to be accurately called "a Christmas episode." Which is why we're doing this now instead of in December. Excluding flashbacks and an epilogue (which does take place at Christmas), the series takes place over a few days in what's presumably late November. Christmas decorations have started going up, but they're certainly not ubiquitous, and stores are stocking holiday lights. It's those lights, incidentally, that I mostly want to address. The story of the series centers around -- STOP! Oh, yeah. Spoiler Alert, and all that. Where was I? Right. The story centers around a missing child who's pulled into a parallel universe by some sort of alien monstrosity. I say "parallel universe" in keeping with