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‘BoJack Horseman’ Returns, and Everything is Good… Question Mark?

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BoJack Horseman‘s fourth season ended on a rare emotional high note for its titular character, a small moment of redemption in direct contrast with the melancholic endings for just about everyone else in Hollywoo (save for Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz, with new hands and old job back). A glimpse of hope in the night, however, is not exactly a shining beacon of happiness, a point made very clear throughout “The Light Bulb Scene”, BoJack Horseman‘s fascinating fifth season premiere. As the lines between BoJack’s personal and professional personas continue to dangerously bleed together, “The Light Bulb Scene” offers an interesting metaphor for the double-edged sword of opportunity, the fine line between personal redemption and damnation BoJack’s failed to walk time and time again in his life.

Though slightly removed from the gloom of season four’s final stretch, “The Light Bulb Scene” makes no attempt at trying to disguise the creeping darkness lurking on the edge of its main narratives. BoJack’s reluctance to dive into his own psyche reaches new lows as he discovers his new show Philbert (the series Princess Carolyn fraudulently signed him up for) is unintentionally a show about himself, a cynical drunk whose penchant for isolationism leads him down dark, dangerous, and wildly misogynistic paths. This alone is heavy enough to anchor an entire season: the opening and closing scenes speak for themselves, blurring the line between BoJack’s life and career, and hinting at a new level of psychological exploration for BoJack to explore. After spending four seasons exploring BoJack’s damaged mind, heart, and genetics through the people around him, “The Light Bulb Scene” suggests season five will offer the most nakedly honest exploration yet –  a sentiment suggested in numerous scenes before BoJack’s actual nude scene on the set of Philbert.

Season four posited the question of whether BoJack could be good, offering a satisfying answer by suggesting that everyone certainly has the opportunity to do good, but to be good is something so subjective and amorphous, that trying to chase it down is maybe not worth it. Of course, being an objectively bad person has its consequences, and BoJack uses the fascinating lens of Hollywood (perhaps the purest embodiment of compromised morality in America, outside of the nation’s capital) to explore a core existential struggle. “The Light Bulb Scene” doubles down on that, nowhere more apparent than with BoJack himself, who is (mostly) trying to control his drinking, his ridiculous meltdowns, and his general asshole-ishness, for the sake of the few relationships he has in his life (which at this point, are few – even Todd doesn’t know he’s on a new series until after it’s started filming).

“The Light Bulb Scene”, wonderfully crafted by writer Kate Purdy, expands this idea a bit further to bring characters like Todd and Princess Carolyn back into the fold: how does one find personal fulfillment in life? Is it by having crazy experiences all the time? Is it sacrificing one’s life savings to fill an emptiness in one’s heart? Is it being financially successful or being memorialized by society? BoJack, being one of the smartest shows on television, knows there isn’t a definitive answer – for all our proclamations of self-definition, of our moral stances and how we perceive ourselves in the world, finding true happiness and purpose in the universe is elusive, difficult, and at times, dangerously harmful when we inevitably fall short in some way. Princess Carolyn always thought she’d be a mother, and she’s sacrificed a relationship and a whole lot of money to fulfill that vision for herself: and while on the surface, it seems guaranteed to give oneself a sense of pride and happiness, it is ultimately a substitute, one of many compromises we are forced to reckon with as we mature from dreamy children to pragmatic adults, navigating the often-disappointing journey of trying to evolve.

This isn’t to say “The Light Bulb Scene” isn’t without its lighter moments, but even Todd’s story in the episode is centered around a man who wanders the world without purpose, and how unsatisfying that’s been for his character over four seasons of television. In addition to blurring the lines between BoJack’s realities to examine both an individual’s psyche and the psychology of an industry (the manipulative tactics we see Rami Malek’s Flip McVicker employ are frighteningly relevant, and ominous), season five of BoJack also looks inward to the relationship between show and audience, Yolanda’s disappointment with Todd’s aloofness chief among them. After years of exploring just how self-critical we, as people, can be to ourselves, BoJack is holding the lens up to itself, throwing shade at its own shortcomings in what amounts to much more than a masturbatory, hollow exercise: by critiquing itself, BoJack is only further sharpening the satire it offers against the entire film industry, a development I’m quite interested seeing flourish over the next eleven episodes.

After last year’s run finished with an explosion of narratively ambitious, emotionally devastating episodes, “The Light Bulb Scene” is a tightly crafted return to (relative) normalcy for BoJack Horseman, re-establishing its central world in a number of meaningful ways. On the surface, it all seems relatively simple: Diane returns from a trip, BoJack starts a new job, and Diane begins the adoptive process. But in Hollywoo, nothing is ever easy: and the uphill climb all these characters face in the wake of their new “opportunities” posit a number of exciting new avenues I can’t wait to see BoJack explore.

other thoughts/observations:

-welcome to season five of BoJack Horseman! Over the next two weeks, I’ll be covering each episode of the new season here at Goomba Stomp.

– for all the fun of Philbert‘s on set difficulties and Mr. Peanutbutter’s on-set pop-ins through the first two acts, the final minutes of “The Light Bulb Scene” are emotional anvils: Mr. Peanutbutter’s career is failing (as his marriage already has), Flip’s casual misogyny gives way to something much more fascist and sinister, and BoJack’s desire to be loved is already challenging his flimsy attempts at moderation.

– I’m sure BoJack sleeping with his co-star Gina (new recurring star Stephanie Beatriz, yet another Brooklyn 99 alum) is going to end well.

– the set of Philbert looks exactly like BoJack’s house, a combination of McVicker’s vision of desperate isolation, and the fact the set designer went to one of Todd and Princess Carolyn’s Boreanaz House tours.

– Gina’s character on Philbert is named Sassy Malone, a woman who hates bras and loves cold rooms. BoJack is holding absolutely no punches with the portrayal of her character, and it is appropriately scathing.

– the blurred line theme is poignantly explored through the use of nudity on television, which is both wildly exploitative, and comes with all the internal and external double standards you’d predict.

– Philbert can only orgasm to a recording of his dead’s wife voice, a nod to the first season when BoJack could only orgasm to the sound of his own character’s voice (who you’ll remember dies in the series finale, a moment BoJack even says was probably too dark for Horsin’ Around).

– yes, Todd’s clowns are still on the loose.

– “Take that, our marriage!” is probably the single darkest reaction I’ve ever heard to a divorce.

– “This is going to be a sensational season of television.” I can’t fucking wait.

A TV critic since the pre-Peak TV days of 2011, Randy is a critic and editor formerly of Sound on Sight, Processed Media, TVOvermind, Pop Optiq, and many, many others.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. SciNerdess

    September 25, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I REAlly liked how the boreaneaz gag was brought back in this ep inside episode

    • Randy Dankievitch

      September 25, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      One of my favorite details this season is in the season premiere, where we learn the set designer of Philbert modeled the main set after Boreanaz House.

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Star Trek: Picard: “Remembrance” Introduces a Different Picard

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star trek picard remembrance

The question ‘which Star Trek captain is your favorite?’ is perhaps one of the easier questions to answer when discussing Star Trek. For all the charm of Captain Kirk and the intimidation that Captain Sisko imposes, none have been quite so complete has Captain Jean-Luc Picard; a role made much easier when the character is portrayed by one of the greatest living actors, Sir Patrick Stewart. So when Star Trek: Picard was announced, expectations were always going to be high, and when the first episode, “Remembrance” aired, expectations were delivered.

In Star Trek: Next Generation, there are some sublime performances by Sir Patrick Stewart that leave Captain Picard as one of the most emotionally distressing characters in the franchise as a whole. From his breakdown in Season 4, Episode 2, when he visits his brother after being detached from the Borg, to Season 6, Episodes 10 and 11, where Picard is interrogated by the Cardassians, resulting in his torture, there have been moments that have changed Picard resulting in the man we see in Star Trek: Picard.

remembrance

Indeed, “Remembrance” was entirely emotional from start to finish. This isn’t a Star Trek of the past but a drama for the future. From the ongoing suspense to the incredible orchestra to help define each moment, this is a different Star Trek to other modern adaptions such as Star Trek: Discovery, with a cliff hanger so intense that I’m not sure whether it’s the Romulans or the Borg to be worrying about.

Remembrance” starts with Picard dreaming about playing poker with Data, only for the planet Mars to ignite in a series of flames and Picard waking up in the panic. Later on, it is shown that synthetic lifeforms attacked Mars previously, which led to a ban on artificial lifeforms in the Federation. This hindered the rescue efforts to save refugees after the Romulan star went supernova, resulting in Picard resigning from Starfleet.

It’s a lot of detail in a relatively short period of time, and Sir Patrick Stewart does a wonderful job of ensuring the mood remains mellow. In fact, it’s a testament to the writers themselves, who have managed to show the viewers the background story in remarkable detail without it feeling too heavy or forced. This sets up perfectly for Picard to meet Dahj, a synthetic lifeform whose life is in danger.

Isa Briones does a fantastic job of portraying the emotional distress that Dahj is in, particularly when her boyfriend is murdered right in front of her eyes. Her strengths are shown in great detail, with numerous small fight scenes with Vulcan assassins, right until her premature death. The problem is sometimes these fight scenes seem like they’ve been taken out of a Marvel film. While it’s great Star Trek continues to adapt to a modern audience, not every feature on TV needs to emulate Marvel; the less of Marvel we have the better.

On that note, it will be interesting to see which direction the series decides to take. Is it going to be more of Picard leading the way in space, or will the series divulge into a Marvel-esque series of action-packed fight scenes? The box has been opened and there are a lot of toys to choose from, let’s hope the writers chose wisely! Or if not, at least we already know Picard can guide the starship, no matter what peril might await us.

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Wrestling

Worlds Collide: NXT vs NXT UK— Another Truly Great PPV

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Worlds Collide: NXT vs NXT UK— Truly Amazing!

Worlds Collide as a brand has been subtly growing within WWE over the past year. The first edition happened on Royal Rumble weekend in 2019. It featured a 15 man tournament with stars from NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live. The next round happened in New York over the 2019 WrestleMania weekend with matches pitting stars from all WWE shows against each other.

What happened on Saturday was the first Worlds Collide branded pay-per-view event. If you missed it, you missed out. It was amazing.

Build up started at NXT UK TakeOver: BlackPool II, when the Undisputed Era appeared and attacked Imperium as the show went off the air. Since then, matches have been booked that pitted some of the best talents both brands have against each other.

Kay Lee Ray vs Mia Yim

This match went down on the Worlds Collide pre-show but it was at main event quality.

Mia Yim vs Kay Lee Ray on the Worlds Collide Pre Show.

NXT UK Women’s Champion faced off in a singles match against Yim, an incredible start to the rookie pay-per-view. Kay Lee Ray has proven herself to be an excellent heel champ while Yim is over with the fans.

While Yim lost, she looked great doing it. Ray cemented herself as a main event player in this match, as she always does. Yim is ready for the main event so it’s time to put her in the mix.

Finn Bálor vs Ilja Dragunov

For a lot of fans in the arena, Worlds Collide was their first introduction to Ilja Dragunov and they weren’t sure how to feel about him. Unless you watch NXT UK a lot, you’re not going to know him. The crowd didn’t really respond when he came out.

They sure knew Finn Bálor, though.

Dragunov calls out Finn.

Despite the fact that Bálor has gone full heel, fans have not given up cheering for him. They were firmly behind Bálor for the bulk of the match. But as it went on, they got a better look at Dragunov and starter showing him some love.

It was a solid opening match, but not a super memorable one. Dragunov was an odd choice to face Bálor given the depth of talent on NXT UK. Watching him face Joe Coffey would have been better. The crowd really only came alive when Bálor headed for the top rope and finished Dragunov off.

Fatal 4-Way For The NXT Cruiserweight Championship

Bringing the Cruiserweight Division closer to the overall NXT brand is a great decision. Showcasing this title match on Worlds Collide was an even better one. Jordan Devlin, Travis Banks, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott were all chasing Angel Garza for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.

This was an absolutely incredible match featuring talent from all over the world. While everyone looked great, Travis Banks, in particular, showed why he belongs in the main event picture. That’s regardless of the brand he’s performing on.

Similarly, Swerve continues to build his personal brand. A championship run is inevitably in his future as every match he has is better than the last.

Devlin with his new NXT Cruiserweight Championship.

Ultimately, Jordan Devlin picked up the surprise, but well deserved, win and became the new champion. It was a surprise simply because Garza won the belt less than two months ago. Plus, no one expected the belt to go to the UK on Worlds Collide.

Still, Devlin will make a great champion. It will be interesting to see how that belt moving across an ocean will play out in the long term.

#DIY vs Moustache Mountain

There was no championship on the line. There was no bad blood between them. This was just two truly great tag teams going at it in a match that stole the show on Worlds Collide.

Moustache Mountain’s Trent Seven and Tyler Bate are mainstays of the NXT UK. On NXT, the reunited members of #DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, are core to the brand. Having these two teams face off was an incredibly meaningful moment.

The match was lighthearted at times, filled with moments that were genuinely funny. Once the match got rolling, each of the four superstars got to show why they are as respected as they are in the industry. They are truly four of the best in the business, in any company.

Good sportsmanship at Worlds Collide.

#DIY won but that almost didn’t matter. To borrow an apt cliche, those who watched were the true winners. After the match, the two teams shared an honest moment of sportsmanship, something fans rarely get to see in a wrestling ring.

Rhea Ripley vs Toni Storm

Worlds Collide was the first challenge for the new NXT Champion, Rhea Ripley. She was the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion but lost the title to Toni Storm. Ripley never had a rematch before moving to NXT.

Toni Storm is ready to fight at Worlds Collide.

During her NXT UK tenure, Ripley only lost two singles matches, one of which cost her a championship. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to redeem that by successfully defending her new championship from Storm, which she did.

The match was well executed but not particularly engaging. Storm got the title shot by asking for it, and without having to earn it through competition. There wasn’t really enough build-up to it to hook the audience in fully.

Fortunately, both wrestlers are great enough at what they do to sell anything in the ring.

Undisputed Era vs Imperium

NXT and NXT UK both have dominant four-man factions who have devastated the competition. It only makes sense to have them face off on Worlds Collide.

While the Walter-led Imperium is always looking to rule the ring, Undisputed Era was hungrier for the win. Keith Lee broke the UE prophecy when he took Roderick Strong’s North American Championship in an epic match the Wednesday before the pay-per-view.

But early in the match, Imperium found themselves a man down when Alexander Wolfe was legit knocked out. He took a rough shot from Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. The ref stopped the match and the doctors took him to the back. Wolfe never returned to the match.

Walter kills.

This left Imperium with a four to three disadvantage, which made their win even more impressive. Everyone looked great, but Walter stole the match as always. He brutalized everyone he was in the ring with and fans were firmly behind him. WWE would be well advised to make good use of him going forward. The man is a star!

After the pay-per-view was over, Triple H confirmed Wolfe’s injury but not the severity of it. Wolfe tweeted that he was fine, thanking the ref and medical staff for taking care of him. Hopefully, it’s nothing that will keep him down for long.

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

One Versus All

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

WrestleMania may be regarded as the Super Bowl of the WWE but of the other three major pay-per-view events, The Royal Rumble has often given us better matches over the years. Yes, the Survivor Series and King of the Ring have had their fair share of moments, but the Royal Rumble is without a doubt the second-biggest wrestling PPV on the planet.

What makes the Royal Rumble so exciting is how it sets up the most prominent storylines on the programming for the remainder of the year. The Royal Rumble is simply put, the start of playoff season and a steppingstone for WWE superstars to prepare for their big moment at WrestleMania. It really is a seminal event on the WWE calendar and has often launched the wrestlers to superstar’s status.

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

A Brief History of the Royal Rumble

Credit for the Royal Rumble can be given to Pat Patterson who came up with the original idea when brainstorming an event that would be bigger and better than the Battle Royale. The concept was simple really; unlike the Battle Royale which begins with all twenty participants in the ring, the Royal Rumble would instead start with only two superstars and have the remaining participants join the match every two minutes thereafter. And to up the ante, instead of having only twenty wrestlers, the Royal Rumble includes thirty superstars who battle it out for a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania (except for in 1992, when Ric Flair won the WWE Championship by winning the titular match ).

If you had to choose just one reason as to why the Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated pay-per-view events, it would be because you never really know what to expect. Aside from anticipating who’ll come out next during the main event— and guessing who will eliminate who— we’re also left wondering who’ll make a long-overdue comeback after being away from the WWE for months – sometimes years.

We’ve seen big men like Kane eliminate eleven opponents in a row, and a superstar like Shawn Michaels become the first wrestler to win the Rumble after entering first. We watched Undertaker get locked in a casket and set on fire and we witnessed The Rock and Mankind battle it out in an “I Quit” match that temporarily led to a power failure and left the entire arena in the dark. There’s just no shortage of over the top moments at the Royal Rumble such as Kofi Kingston’s creative ways to avoid elimination or the surprise entrance by AJ Styles. The Royal Rumble is where dreams are made, careers are ended, and over the years, fans have witnessed some of the most intense rivalries take shape at the event.

History of the Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is without question, an important PPV and has been a part of a tradition dating all the way back to 1988. We’ve seen many of the most iconic wrestlers win the multi-man brawl, including Hulk Hogan (1990, 1991), Ric Flair (1992), Bret Hart (1994), Shawn Michaels (1995, 1996) Steve Austin (1997, 1998, 2001), The Rock (2000), Triple H (2002), The Undertaker (2007), and John Cena (2008), to name a few. And we’ve seen plenty more superstars come close, but ultimately getting eliminated at the very last minute. Yes, it’s a simple concept but the Royal Rumble is also incredibly exciting to watch.

Apart from the titular main event, WWE’s annual January extravaganza has also given us some incredible matches in the undercard. From surprising sleeper hits to fast-paced tag team action to hardcore matches and strange gimmick matches— the Royal Rumble has time and time again, blessed wrestling fans with the perfect blend of great storytelling and in-ring action. As such, the event has given fans some classic matches over the years and many have stood the test of time.

Whether it’s the rumble itself or a high-tempo singles match, the list of great matches that took place during the Royal Rumble is rather long. Below is a list of the greatest Royal Rumble matches to date, with links to the full review of each match.

Simply click on the links below to read about whichever match interests you most and let us know in the comments, what you think is the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time.

Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series. You can find all the articles here.

  • Ricky D

The 10 Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

1) Royal Rumble 2003: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

2) Royal Rumble 1992: The Royal Rumble Match

3) Royal Rumble 2000: The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tables Match)

4) Royal Rumble 2000: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight

5) Royal Rumble 2001: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (Ladder Match)

6) Royal Rumble 1998: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (Casket Match)

7) Royal Rumble 1995: Diesel vs. Bret Hart

8) Royal Rumble 2004: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

9) Royal Rumble 1999: The Rock vs.Mankind (“I Quit” Match)

10) Royal Rumble 1994: Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match)

Special Mention

Royal Rumble 2007: The Royal Rumble Match

Royal Rumble 2015: Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena Vs. Seth Rollins

Royal Rumble 2009: Jeff Hardy vs. Edge

Royal Rumble 1991: Sgt. Slaughter vs. the Ultimate Warrior

Royal Rumble 1991: The Rockers vs. The Orient Express

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