waynepygram.com: 2017 Closeout for 2018 New Year's Series and Movies Reviewed Spectacular

waynepygram.com: 2017 Closeout for 2018 New Year's Series and Movies Reviewed Spectacular

This is what happens when you get lazy. You lump everything into one mega-post and call it a special.

So yeah, new series came, new series went in 2017. For Disney Channel...well, I think Andi Mack and Tangled: The Series were pretty much it for new shows (we're not counting Disney XD or Disney Jr. in this) and we've already reviewed those. Nickelodeon...I honestly don't know of any new series that debuted on Nickelodeon in 2017.

Well...that's not entirely true.

I can't name any new series to debut on Nick in 2017 from their "traditional," usual channels. But they've had imports (or rather semi-imports) aplenty. So we'll be reviewing them in this post (except for Hunter Street, which we also reviewed on its own), along with various miscellany series and movies that are loosely tied into this blog's mission statement of reviewing Disney Channel and Nickelodeon (and like) shows, as it says on this blog's title and very URL that you have to type in to even get to here in the first place. 

Also, Happy New Year, and Happy First Blog Post of 2018!

I Am Frankie - Nickelodeon

I had a clever quote pulled out for this one, but I forgot it.

Well if there's any question that both WITs Academy and Talia in the Kitchen are dead and buried after just one season each, it's in the form of this show because as it's coming from the same Nick Latin studio and the same creative team, they'd be producing those shows instead of this one (which is sad because I rather really quite liked the cast of both those shows). But at least I Am Frankie has an equally likable cast and, quite frankly (hah!), given both its single-cam format, actual investment in production values and vastly improved writing I'm going to consider it a more than fair trade. 

Yeah, in many ways it's kiddie-Westworld both in plot and in the twists it throws at us, and unlike Westworld...yeah, let's all just say it, we all saw those plot twists coming (but to I Am Frankie's credit it at least doesn't resort to Westworld's WHAT A TWEEEST! overboard every. Freaking. Ten. Minutes. As if plot twists alone are suitable replacement for plot) but it's a decent story with a cast that can carry it, and make us actually care about what happens to Frankie in her pals with that same strange, intangible and inexplainable magic that made the otherwise incomprehensible bizarre trip that was Every Witch Way so lovable, entertaining and just watchable. 

Season 1 Grade: B+
Season 1 MVP: Nicole Alyse Nelson, because a series about a robot with all the acting personality of one (not meant as a comment against Alex Hook who actually seems like a really good actress herself) really pops through the character of her human best friend.

Extra Thoughts:

 - Yes that's...what's his guy, the guy who was Aganemnon in EWW as the kinda sorta evil robot scientist who's less evil than the even more evil robot scientist who's still less evil than the super-evil government dues. And yes just like EWW you've got multiple heels inhabiting multiple levels of heel-ness...which was actually one of the strengths of EWW, so I'll be sticking around for this one. Speaking of which:

% We'll Be Seeing Next Season: 90% 100%, it is coming back guaranteed. I've received multiple word from seemingly knowledgeable sources that we'll be seeing Season 2 sometime this year, but nothing from a source that I'd consider concrete (the cast and/or Nick themselves, and yes I've sent tweets) so that prevents it from being a sure thing as far as I'm concerned, but I'm pretty confident it's coming back. The ratings were pretty average, but at least those ratings were made up by a solid fanbase that's very enthusiastic about the show, so there's no real reason to believe Nick won't be bringing it back, especially given the studio's reputation for delivering product at very cheap cost. With Hunter Street already announced to take up the typical February slots a show like this would occupy, expect this show to return August-September just as it did last year. UPDATE: Literally just an hour or so after I wrote this I did stumble upon confirmation that they're gearing up for Season 2 production as we speak, which would also suggest an airing date roughly a year after the first season.

Ride - Nickelodeon

Again I had a clever quote but I forgot it, I think I'm gonna quit this while I can pretend to be ahead.

A slow start but eventually picking up steam, and man, what a hell of an ending. You probably figured out the "twist" at least a few episodes in advance, but that didn't diminish its emotional punch, especially given Kit's equally surprise twist ultimate ending. I mean, I didn't think she'd take it to that extreme. But while it did build up to an interesting story, "build up" is indeed right as it did have a pretty slow start. Still, it ended up a decent enough imported addition to Nick's lineup.

Season 1 Grade: B-
Season 1 MVP: Kendra Lee Timmins because why not, and also yeah, that ending, man.

Extra Thoughts:

 - I might be a little biased because I adore horseies. Yeah I'm not afraid to admit it. But you probably figured that out the moment you stumbled upon a blog run by a grown-ass dude called "Nick and Disney Channel Reviewed."

 - I looked up Kenda Lee Timmins' age beacuse...well...#MeToo I'll just admit I kinda thought she was cute and I didn't want to feel weird and grossed out about it, if there's no problem being public about thinking she's cute in the first place...and as of the time of filming Ride she was 25 years old. Yeah. So I really don't have any excuse to feel grossed out about it because that's pretty much in "My Age" territory. FFS she's older than my ex fiancee, albeit by the slimmest of margins.

% We'll Be Seeing Next Season: 50%? I'm having severe trouble trying to find any news or information about this show despite the fact that it clearly existed. Hell I'm having trouble getting IMDb to recognize the show's page. Going by its airing schedule last year...we should've been halfway through Season 2 right at the point of time when I'm writing this, but that's not necessarily an indication of cancellation, especially since we've just seen Hunter Street get bounced to a different part of the year at least by a little bit, and don't get me started on EWW. If it were to continue production and air, likely candidate airing times include March and either before or after I Am Frankie S2 (mid summer or mid fall).

Mako Mermaids - Disney Channel

Yeah, this aired nearly two years ago which shows you how lazy I can be, even when it comes to watching TV shows which is one of the laziest activities imaginable. Or more precisely, Season (well, Series) 1 aired nearly two years ago. Actually, I guess you could argue Series 4 since it's a spinoff/sequel to the Australian series H2O: Just Add Water. The premise of that show was about three girls who fell into this "moon pool" on Mako Island (presumably just off the coast of Australia, somewhere, since while they never explicitly said it was Australia they never make any real attempt to hide it) and got turned into mermaids, and have to adjust to life accordingly while hiding their secret. Mako Mermaids somewhat flips the premise, as not only is it about a boy who gets turned into a mer...boy by falling into the pool, but three actual mermaids who call the moon pool home and make it their mission to turn the boy back so they can reclaim the pool for their pod (in fact it's the mermaids who end up being the central characters).

As it turns out at the very end of the show it does help somewhat to have seen H2O previously but it's not necessary (it does add some extra closure to H2O, though, for a little more extra satisfaction for that show). That said Series 1 does start with a clean break. And...it's fun. A bit uneven, but fun. Again I'm a bit biased because I totes adores mermaids (Splash - yeah as in the ancient Darryl Hannah/Tom Hanks movie, back when Tom Hanks was the king of the romcom and comedies in general which was movie eons ago - was one of the first movies I ever saw, and I pretty much fell in love instantly and ever since) but even I have to admit it's...a bit uneven if not outright wonky. The show absolutely relies on a Power Rangers-like "plot/problem of the week" structure so the main plot of how to fix Zack's problem/the overarching plot of the series tends to take a massive backseat but you get what you expect, and it's a fun ride all the same. I still wish the narrative could've been a little tighter, a little more "next level."

Series 1 Grade: A flat B. Of the three series total (and yes it is just three, don't believe what Netflix tells you they just broke up Series 2 into two) the first one does end up being the best, with Series 2 probably also getting a flat B but I would still rank the first marginally better, and Series 3 getting a B-. Again, it needed more "next level" storytelling to get it into B+ territory, let alone A-territory - "next level" storytelling that even I Am Frankie and its predecessor Every Witch Way had, or at least to a greater relative degree.

Series 1 MVP: Ivy Latimer (who plays Nixie) because...ummm...because she's freakin' gorgeous and (spoiler alert) after her character left off-screen at the very start of Series 2...yeah I sorely missed her. In fact while her Wikipedia page says she moved on to become a presenter on some Australian show, and I can indeed find clips to confirm that, her acting resume since Series 1 (keep in mind this is back in 2013, now a whole half-decade ago) is otherwise a complete blank.

Come back, Ivy ;_;

Extra Thoughts:

 - Yeah, I really love old-school Tom Hanks comedies.

 - I also really love Aquamarine - yes the cheesy movie with Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts and Jojo Levesque in it - which is based on a book by Alice Hoffman which I also really love.

 - Speaking of Aquamarine I once got an A+ on a college term paper where I talked about Aquamarine (both the movie and the book) along with the original Grimm fables, Alan Turing (yes as in the computer guy) and Grand Admiral Thrawn (yes as in the blue guy from Star Wars: Rebels). I'm pretty sure I still have that paper somewhere, in its physical form at least, and I'm pretty damn well tempted to scan it and post it right here.

 - Fun fact: Splash is credited with popularizing the name Madison. As in, well, Liv...and Maddie.

% We'll Be Seeing Next Series: 0%. Yup. Zilch, nada, ain't gonna happen. For starters, it's already been nearly two years since the show's premiere on Disney Channel and I think it's pretty clear that it just isn't going to be a thing on Disney Channel anymore.

Of course, that's Disney Channel and that's not to say you can't see the complete show elsewhere. In fact it originally aired stateside on Netflix (and Netflix partially financed the show to begin with giving them enough credibility to even call it a "Netflix Original") and to the best of my knowledge the entire show is still up there, if you do have Netflix. And Series 2 (potentially maybe even Series 3/1?) is being aired on Universal Kids, if that's part of your cable package. They seem to be rotating through Series 2 still, but that's not an indication they don't have Series 1 and 3 although it is an indication that Disney Channel clearly lost the rights to the show at some point. Whether they let it lapse - it did pull in mediocre ratings, although that might be attributed to its rather wonky timeslot and airing - or if Universal just gave Netflix a better deal, I dunno, but it's out there in some form.

And what if you don't have Universal Kids or Netflix, like I do (well, don't, rather)? Well...there are, um, "other means" but...yeah, I'm not going to go there.

Backstage - Disney Channel

Hey, guys who kept complaining that Disney Channel was holding Girl Meets World back and is too kiddie to do real drama? Yeah, well, here ya fucking go.

Backstage is DeGrassi: The Freshman Class. It's literally wall-to-wall drama. It's the only plot narrative of the show. And it's pretty intense.

Of course and unfortunately a side effect is that the plot progression and pace is going to be pretty slow - a bit slower than normal at points, agonizingly slow at other points. But it's very clear that real thought, effort, care and even heart was put into this show - and I don't mean just strictly in production values (remember, EWW had lousy production values but a ton of heart) but in its story. And its theme song is hauntingly beautiful.

Season 1 Grade: B-. Again, it's held back by its agonizing pace in places, especially at the beginning. But man, does it have one hell of a cast.
Season 1 MVP: It's really hard to pick due to all the cast pretty much getting equal attention throughout the series, and it being a very large cast, easily one of the largest of any show to ever air on Disney Channel since at least when I started watching. I guess I'll just default to Devyn Nakoda and Alyssa Trask because at the end, it does still end up being their story - they're the first characters we see and at the end of Season 1, the last.

% We'll Be Seeing Next Season: ...50%? This is a bit of a weird case. Series 2 basically just finished up airing in its native Canada (hence the long break even though this show started originally airing on Disney Channel also back in 2016, concurrent with the tail end of Mako Mermaids no less), but also it's already available on certain ABC-affiliated OnDemand outlets, region and package-dependent (and by that I don't mean like in Canada, I mean here in the actual U.S.) The key there being on ABC-affiliated OnDemand/streaming outlets which directly implies ABC/Disney already has the rights to air Series 2 in some form. Furthermore the original network that commissioned Backstage - Family Channel - is now Disney Channel Canada which means technically Disney Channel is the original rights holder to begin with. So the only thing stopping them is sheer will, but I've seen no indication that it's going to make a comeback. And again, from what I remember ratings were somewhat mediocre, perhaps held back by its slow pace (so again, people demanding that Disney Channel needs to be more "dramatic" can suck it).

That said, there's been a huge lead-time between Series 1 and 2, and Backstage's appearance on Disney Channel US was rather sudden to begin with, so it could simply be a matter of time - a few months, in fact - before Backstage makes its US Disney Channel comeback. But I'm keeping it at 50% due to lack of any confirmation whatsoever. If Series 2 were to air on Disney Channel, at this point we'd probably be expecting any time from late spring up until it'd be time to change out programming for the next Christmas season (or even later). Mid spring seems a bit optimistic at this point, if a return of the show period isn't overly optimistic.

The Lodge - Disney Channel

So...this is a bit of a weird one, actually.

It started out with a lot of energy, that's for sure - basically High School Musical: The Series, But British, And In A Lodge - and while they never abandoned that premise it did get a little bogged down in a GMW-esque love triangle (actually multiple love triangles, involving again a sizable cast) which certainly effected its pace and while the ways and methods the show was shot in were certainly slick (it looks quite lovely on a high-end 1080p TV, BTW) I swear its overall production values actually went down as Series 1 went on, and Series 1 is just 10 episodes long

It's also got, well...some zany Westworld-esque sudden plot twists and character turnover that would elicit sympathy from whoever's in charge of HR for the cabinet and personal staff of Trump (that's a really poor joke about high turnover, BTW). While it's pretty clear that the core cast is staying put, it feels like the main gimmick of the show isn't so much the slick, high-production value song and dance numbers as it is the love triangle plot twists that would make Farkle scream in the agony of not being able to keep up. 

So yeah, it's the Girl Meets World the fandom's wanted all along, but High School Musical-ized. And It's British, And In A Lodge.

Series 1 Grade: B-.
Series 1 MVP: Jade Alleyne because background characters need recognition too, damnit!

...or I can be a real cheeky bastard and give it to Dove Cameron - yes, the one and only - and at least have some legitimacy for reasons I'll get into.

Extra Thoughts:

 - Fun fact: This is actually based off a Disney Channel Israel series called North Star (the name of the lodge, hence the lodge in The Lodge also being called The North Star).

% We'll Be Seeing Next Season: 75%? This is an even weirder situation than Backstage, but it's a weird situation that works in the show's favor.

See, the thing is that this series was originally commissioned by Disney Channel UK so it's always been in the Mouse House. Hell, even the original concept it's based off was also straight from Disney Channel, this time from Israel. Not to mention Series 2 has a particularly special guest star - Dove Freakin' Cameron. Disney Channel US/UK in fact made a huge investment to get Dove into Series 2, and especially given the huge, practically all-eggs-in-one-basket investments Disney Channel US has made into Descendants, it would be outright foolish not to take advantage of that investment in this country. Hell, the whole reason why Dove's even in Series 2 was because she petitioned to be on it herself, because she's a huge fan of the show, and it would be foolish of Disney Channel to not capitalize on the personal endorsement of their biggest star, quite possibly the biggest star in the network's entire history, and one they've made huge investments into.

So I would venture that there should be a huge chance Series 2 is going to be on Disney Channel, given the investments and star power made, despite the lack of word either way. Series 2, in fact, is still ongoing in Britain as of the time of this writing due to some insanely huge lead-time (this is yet another series that premiered all the way back in 2016, again concurrent with the tail end of Backstage) so that may be a factor in the relative silence of this show coming back. As for when it'll air, see Backstage above. Unlike Nick which tends to want to air these type of shows on a daily basis and reserve a whole month for each show, Disney Channel has been treating these shows like their own originals (again, at least in part because in effect they are) so not only do they tend to premiere them on a weekly basis, but have no problem doing it concurrently, which blows the potential schedule wide open.
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