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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 18) – Crystal Clear / The Hard Way

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While the last few episodes of Star vs the Forces of Evil have had stories that focused on Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz handling some problems of their own, episode 18 of the second season, zeroes it’s focus back on Season 2’s larger, universe-altering storyline.

But enough talk about doom and destruction, let’s dive right into our analysis of Episode 18!

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-Crystal Clear-

Late one evening, Star and Marco end up being trapped in crystals, and taken by a snake-handed creature named Rhombulus.

The over-reactive Rhombulus, brings them to Chancellor Lekmet of the Magic High Commission, on suspicion that Star, is behind the alarming draining of magic within the universe.

Just like the segments Running with Scissors and Mathmagic, Crystal Clear gives us some more insight into a few more members of the Magic High Commission (as witnessed in the segment, Page Turner).

Unfortunately, the segment’s focusing on Rhombulus and the Chancellor, proves to be one of the least-entertaining character explorations so far this season.

Rhombulus’ erratic nature, put me in mind of another crazy character we’ve seen earlier in the season: Mina Loveberry. Both of these characters seemed intriguing at first, but their stories just meander…and not like the intriguing ‘meandering’ that we get from a story with someone like Glossaryck of Terms.

The Chancellor is also a rather blase character. He’s in a high position of power, and yet Rhombulus is one of the only creatures that can understand him(?). There is a small addendum that Rhombulus is Lekmet’s caretaker, but it feels like it’s glossed over pretty quickly.

Star is the only other character, who gets the most conversation time with Rhombulus during the story. What is most interesting, is that when faced with a rather over-reactive being like Rhombulus, Star acts as a pretty calming ‘voice of reason’ (maybe this could be something she’s learned from being around Marco?).

In a way, the story feels a bit like Page Turner, in that we’re given some information that may make this story a bit more relevant in future episodes, but for now, it just feels like a lot of stuff is being thrown at us…boring stuff.

Final Grade: C+

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Best line from segment (said by Rhombulus): There’s nothing evil about Lekmet. He’s the most pure-hearted, hard-working angel/goat/demon there ever was.”

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-The Hard Way-

Now that Ludo has Glossaryck of Terms, and Star’s ancestral spellbook in his clutches, he is dead-set on learning how to properly use his wand. At first assuming he’s going to have to use force, Ludo is surprised at Glossaryck’s willingness to teach him!

It feels like it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Ludo operating within the world of Mewni, and there’s quite a number of revelations to be had here.

When it comes to Ludo, Glossaryck has no qualms about teaching him magic from the book. It feels like there’s no strings attached, as Glossaryck gives Ludo plenty of positive reinforcement to his wand usage…though, is there possibly more to what the little blue man has in mind?

This story feels a bit like Crystal Clear in how it gives us little tidbits of information, though unlike that story, there’s enough ‘open space’ in this story, that the information we are given, ends up sticking in our heads.

We even get a little more information on Ludo’s past. We’ve seen scant information about his past up til’ now (with a weird little bit in the Season 1 story, Marco Grows a Beard), but the items revealed here, makes me wonder just how old Ludo really is. When you think of how he has reacted, he acts like a spoiled child at times, who just wants to be taken seriously.

The directors manage to do a lot with such a simple story idea, and it makes The Hard Way, very easy to go back into, and watch over and over again!

Of course, like most stories this season, the final few minutes are where the writers drop a house on us…and not just any house, but a 3-story mansion of eye-popping revelations!

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Ludo):” Oh, I’ve got plenty of taint already.”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Glossaryck of Terms, in The Hard Way): “…You kiddin’ me?”

Both segments in this episode, feel like they are giving us some very important information going forward, though they each have their own ways of doing so.

Crystal Clear attempts to give Star (and us), some more information on the Magic High Commission, as well as what is going on in the universe, regarding the draining of magic. Unfortunately, the rather erratic nature of Rhombulus, doesn’t really make him as interesting (or endearing) as the last few High Commission members we’ve met. Star also seems to be included out of necessity here as well, but does show her ability to listen, and show compassion to those who are somewhat erratic.

The Hard Way ends up being the more interesting, and better-structured story of the two on hand. Getting to learn more about Ludo, as well as Glossaryck’s teaching ‘methods,’ ends up making the story just fly by. There are also plenty of new revelations, and one major bit of information, that definitely makes the story stand out in a big way.

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With episode 18 down, that just leaves 4 more to go for Season 2 (including two 22-minute stories at the tail-end!). Next episode, we finally get the proper return of our favorite club-cheeked taskmaster, Ms Heinous! Plus, Marco intends to prove his worth to his Sensei, against the rich and snobbish Jeremy Birnbaum. Word is these stories are both Marco-heavy in their content. Will that be the case? Come back in a few days, and we’ll see!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 17) – Mathmagic / The Bounce Lounge

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And we’re back, to review another episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil!

Well, after the one-two punch of intrigue that was episode 16, let’s dive right in, and see what episode 17 has in store for us!

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-Mathmagic-

After accidentally creating a ruckus in class during Ms Skullnick’s math lesson, Star is forced to go up to the blackboard, and solve a math problem.

However, Star has no idea what she is doing, and decides to claim ignorance…but suddenly, finds herself stuck in a time-loop that refuses to end, until she solves the math problem!

This is another one of those ‘lessons for Star’ storylines, where Marco takes a backseat, and she has to figure out just what the heck is going on. And frankly, for being a story that seems to spend most of it’s time spinning it’s wheels and going nowhere…it’s pretty fun!

If you’ve read some of my previous Star reviews, you might have seen me mention that the concept of ‘time,’ is something that pushes my buttons (thank you, Back to the Future!). After seeing some time-related elements in last episode’s segment, Running with Scissors, Mathmagic provides us with another story about how time and space work in this series, beyond the norms of our own Earth realm.

With this segment, we also get the return of a familiar face, in the form of Father Time (last scene in the segment, Freeze Day), and, more information on a newer character, named Omintraxus Prime (voiced by Carl Weathers). Omnitraxus had a small cameo in the segment titled Page Turner, and just like Hekapoo in Running with Scissors, he gets an expanded role here, that shows just what he’s capable of.

Mathmagic could have easily been a throw-away segment, but the fact that we got some more information about ‘alternate universes,’ and a little more information on Omnitraxus, may mean there’s something here, to keep in mind as we move forward.

It does feel like there’s a bit of fan-service when we see several alternate universe Star Butterfly’s (among other things), but overall, it’s a decent story about Star understanding a bit more about how the universe works.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “What is happening, and why do you keep wearing these terrible hats!?”

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-The Bounce Lounge-

Star gets a visit from Princess Pony Head, who tearfully informs her ‘bestie,’ that their old hangout, The Bounce Lounge, is closing!

Wanting to save their old hangout, Star and Pony Head decide to get their old crew back together, in hopes to keep the party going!

Having seen a number of cartoon series over the years, it seems a given that sooner-or-later, a series will get to a story like this one, where a group of friends band together to save a place that means a lot to them. To most who watch movies, this will probably seem closer in tone to the main theme of The Blues Brothers (minus the Police chase at the end, among other things).

The story plays a bit fast-and-loose with Star and Pony Head’s past, as well as a number of their Bounce Lounge friends. Most of the story, is mainly them trying to get the gang back together.

Where the story trips up for me, is in regards to it’s payoff at the end.

Milly Sparkles (the Bounce Lounge’s owner), is the character that is largely throwing out little bits of information here and there about the lounge, but it is in her final revelation, that may make some ask, “why didn’t you just tell us ‘that’ in the first place?”

There is the rather grown-up message about how nothing lasts forever, and in a sense, sometimes, we may need to move on. That may not be easy for younger viewers to grasp, but for the older viewers (like myself), it’s something we’ve all encountered at least once in our lives.

Milly Sparkles’ voice is provided by Constance Shulman, which may sound familiar if you watched cartoons in the 90’s. Constance was the voice of Patti Mayonnaise from the TV show, Doug (both on Nickelodeon, and ABC)and Milly marks her first animation voice-over work, in over 18 years!

Another notable cameo, is the character of Johnny Blowhole, a dolphin who was first introduced to us die-hard fans, in the current Star comic book series (available at most comic stores near you!). This does make me wonder, if the Deep Trouble comic mini-series, is canon with the show (can anyone on the show confirm this for me? Please?!).

We also get some return appearances by quite a few other characters (such as Kelly and her boyfriend Tad from Goblin Dogs), as well as a much larger cameo appearance, by the pirate bunnies we’ve seen on-and-off throughout the series (though we still don’t have names for them).

The segment reminds me of a few anime I watched in my teens, where every-once-in-awhile, we’d have a ‘random dance party’ episode. Despite the somewhat lukewarm ending, it was fun to see Marco get swept up in the excitement, as the Bounce Lounge came alive again (thanks to Brian H Kim’s ‘sick beats’).

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from segment (said by Princess Pony Head): “What!? I thought that’s what you were thinking!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Mathmagic): “You expect the punch line to be one thing, but what you end up with is just logic. Classic anti-humor!”

Well, episode 17 wasn’t as wholly-entertaining as the last episode, but still, not that bad overall!

Mathmagic has some mind-bending fun with time and space, while also teaching Star a lesson about trying. The information Omnitraxus Prime gives about alternate dimensions (let alone the imagery we see about them), makes it a segment I’ve come to watch several times!

The Bounce Lounge fills itself up with that youthful vigor to try and bring life back to a place that needs a helping hand, though falls a bit short in how it wraps itself up in the end. Even so, it has enough good vibes and good will to get me to bop along to it’s catchy beats!

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And now, comes another couple days hiatus, while we wait for episode 18. Just like Hekapoo and Omnitraxus Prime, another character from the segment Page Turner, will be showing up in the first segment of the next episode, and it looks like Star is going to be taking a little trip with him. Plus, the segment after will hopefully answer a question many of us have had for awhile: Now that Glossaryck is under Ludo’s control, will he end up driving the crazy little bird-creature, even crazier?  We’ll see you back here soon, to find out!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 16) – Baby / Running with Scissors

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Wow. Probably not since I decided to review the entire first season of Star vs the Forces of Evil, have I done another review so close to the previous one.

But, this is the world we live in, where new episodes are going to be popping up every few days, until we hit that magic Season 2 finale, at the end of February.

Well, enough chit-chat, let’s dive into episode 16 of Season 2!

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-Baby-

Concerned for her daughter’s magical training, Moon Butterfly sends Star’s fairy godmother named Baby, to have her evaluated.

Pretty soon, Star finds herself trying to make a good impression on Baby, while Marco is tasked with providing refreshments during the evaluation.

While I was entertained by Baby, I can see this story dividing some of the viewers, when it comes to entertainment value. My guess is some of the younger viewers might find it odd, while some of us who have been in the workplace for awhile, will get the humor in regards to Baby’s ‘interesting’ evaluation methods.

When it comes to characters, Baby is a strange amalgamation of cuteness, along with a facial expression that rarely belies what she is thinking, as she scribbles on her clipboard. Star’s father at one point calls her a ‘monster,’ but it’s hard to tell if she really is one, or if he’s just upset that she ate up his food (Baby has a bottomless appetite, that is used for comedic value in a few places).

If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Big Bang Theory, than Baby’s voice should sound familiar. Actress Melissa Rauch voices this new character with a cutesy tone, that has a slight, ‘off’ quality to it.

This is a segment that seems to shoot right for the middle. It feels like an important story, and yet, it doesn’t. There aren’t a lot of major revelations, and it feels like a smaller piece of the overall jigsaw puzzle, as we hurtle towards the end of Season 2. However, the items we’ve been told here in Baby, at least feel a bit more concrete than the revelations we were given in last episode’s segment, titled Raid the Cave.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Baby): “…how do you think it should work?”

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-Running with Scissors-

Not wanting to take the laser-puppies out for a walk in the rain, Marco borrows Star’s dimensional scissors, and manages to get the job done without leaving his room.

However, he soon abuses the power of the scissors, and is accosted by Hekapoo, who is the forger of all dimensional scissors.

Marco’s attempts to retrieve the scissors, soon leads him on a journey…one he could probably never have imagined undertaking.

As a character, Marco is often a fascinating study for me. While Star has magic powers to help her out, seeing an ordinary human being like Marco thrust into extraordinary situations, is greatly entertaining. Plus, as we’ve seen in other episodes, he is not one to give up when obstacles are thrust in his way.

This was one segment that I had no idea where it was going…and where it went, was somewhere that just blew my mind!

When I first saw Hekapoo in the segment Page Turner earlier this season, I simply assumed she’d be a one-shot background character. However, this segment shows that she serves a far greater purpose in the world of inter-dimensional travel. Of course, I am now curious as to why she was included in the Magic High Commission’s meeting in Page Turner (I’m guessing that the forging of dimensional scissors isn’t very profitable, and is more of a hobby for her?).

Much like how some segments made Star’s acquaintances Tom and Princess Pony Head seem less annoying, this segment really made Hekapoo a palatable character in my eyes. She definitely seems to fit into the archetype of a demon or a trickster, with the task she gives Marco. If she had a human equal, I’d say she could be an inter-dimensional version of Star and Marco’s human friend, Janna.

Another fun piece of the puzzle, is that we get more backstory on just where Princess Pony Head got those dimensional scissors she gave to Star in the segment, Party with a Pony.

This is a segment I could see spawning so many fanfictions within the Star community, both related to Hekapoo, and Marco’s journey. We’re only shown a fraction of what seems to be a truly huge story, and that in itself, with it’s myriad possibilities, makes the ‘teaser’ that is this segment, so much fun to watch!

If it seems I haven’t given away much regarding this segment, that’s for the best. To tell much more about it, is to give away so many of it’s mind-blowing scenes (I’m still trying to come to terms with some of them even now). Coupled with Brian H Kim’s music, they still give me pause to ponder (especially the final scene!).

Final Grade: B+

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Best line from segment (said by Hekapoo): “You humans are lame times a thousand. Boop!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Running with Scissors): “Oh no. He’s gone scissor-happy.”

…whoa…this episode is that rare one-two punch where both segments make for a wholly-entertaining 22 minutes!

Baby continues to build up the show’s Mewnian lore, as well as give some more insight into Star’s abilities, and hint at what the future could possibly hold. The overall segment is not very strong, and while many can probably guess the outcome, Baby’s low-key evaluation methods provided me with plenty of entertainment.

Running with Scissors to me, is one of the highlights of the season. A Marco-centric storyline, that shows just how far he’ll go to prove himself, even if the situation may not be totally safe. Star takes a backseat in this story, but I think like myself, you’ll be a tad more entranced by Hekapoo, and her demonic wiles.

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Now this was an episode, that makes me eager for what the next one will bring! Episode 17 of Season 2, will feature Star having to deal with mathematics (and possible repercussions?), and we are going to be making a return visit to the inter-dimensional Bounce Lounge (last scene in Season 1). See ya real soon!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 15) – Raid the Cave / Trickstar

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And, we’re back with more Star vs the Forces of Evil episodes on DisneyXD...and we got a veritable avalanche of new episodes coming our way!

Not sure what the reasoning or logic is, but it looks like we’re due to get the remainder of Season 2, in a constant roll-out over the next few weeks in February!

But we have so much time and so little to do…wait, strike that, reverse it.

Anyways, onto the the segments for episode 15 of Season 2!

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-Raid the Cave-

Following the events of the last episode titled Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, Star and Marco set out to try and retrieve her family’s spellbook, and Glossaryck of Terms.

Thanks to Buff Frog, the two infiltrate Ludo’s hidden lair on Mewni, and find a number of unexpected surprises.

This segment’s main focus is one that a number of people have been waiting for for a long time, though probably not with the kind of results we ended up getting.

Much like the Season 1 segment titled Matchmaker, Marco strongly recommends Star tell her parents about what has happened, but she seems to be under the impression that her parents will be very upset with what she’ll tell them. Star’s emotions and being secretive about some things, is one of the small highlights of the piece, and definitely makes her relatable in several areas.

We also get some more information regarding Star and her wand usage. There is also a callback to some special magic of hers we saw fleetingly in the first episode of this season, leaving us to wonder just how/why it may be triggered.

We are also introduced to a new sub-class of ‘monsters’ on Mewni. While many of us know of the more violent and warrior-type of creatures, we meet a group who dub themselves ‘alternative monsters.’ The show staff tries to have a little fun with these ‘hipster’ monsters, but most of what they try for comedy regarding their lifestyle, just didn’t push my buttons.

Personally, I feel that the ‘alternative monsters’ could have a role to play further on down the line. Plus, unlike most monsters who wish to fight Star, a few we meet here actually find her to be pretty cool.

Raid the Cave follows the continuing story regarding Ludo’s plans, but doesn’t really give us anymore revelations regarding it. I think like several other people, I’m hoping we’ll get a bit more focus on what that plan is in upcoming episodes, before we get to the big season finale.

By the way, there’s also a fun little gag referencing a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this episode. If you watch, see if you can spot it.

Final Grade: B-

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “I thought your babies were sending us fanart!”

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-Trickstar-

Marco’s karate school Sensei is having a Birthday Party, and he and Star are invited! Sensei is super-excited when famed magician Preston Change-O, shows up to perform some magic tricks. However, as his conjuring continues, Star gets a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to the little man than he’s letting on.

We’ve seen Star being somewhat fascinated by ‘earth magic’ in some previous segments (like The Banagic Incident), but this is the first time that she’s seen magic performed by a magician.

Her growing suspicions about Preston, reminded me a lot of her reactions in the Season 1 segment, The Other Exchange Student. However, I will admit the tone of Trickstar, actually had enough entertainment value to get me to laugh out loud a few times.

We had been told that Weird Al Yankovic would be providing a voice for Season 2, and it turned out to be for Preston. Unlike some of his more wilder-sounding voices, Al takes a more low-key approach to this character, using a deeper tone that almost threw me off track.

Preston as a character, is also quite a ‘trickster’ in his own right. We see he can be a bit manipulative, and can play into others’ sympathies, which helps the segment play out into a quirky twist ending, that may not be for everyone.

Seeing Sensei again made me a bit apprehensive after the last time he was in a storyline, though here, he was played moreso for laughs in a way I could enjoy. We also have Jeremy Birnbaum show up for the first time since Season 1, and actually have a semi-funny cameo here. Seriously, this may be the first time many of us might feel a little…sympathy for Jeremy (I know…scary stuff!).

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Marco Diaz): “The point of ‘earth magic’ is to, allow yourself to be entertained, by pretending that it’s real…just like love!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Sensei, in Trickstar): “What!? I knew I didn’t feel dismembered!”

After the hiatus, and coming off a very strong episode like Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, I was glad that the return of Star vs the Forces of Evil did give us a semi-decent return.

Raid the Cave felt a little ‘flat’ in it’s storytelling and comedy, let alone some of the revelations and explorations that were made. However, it was nice to see some minor story-points come up, as well as Star taking further steps to try and be a bit more responsible going forward.

Trickstar to me, was the more entertaining of the two pieces. It’s far from a perfect segment, but I like that it had a Star-centric storyline, where we get to see how she reacts in unfamiliar situations, as well as how she is often thinking about the well-being of others. Preston Change-o and his characterization did serve as a decent foil, given that half the time, you aren’t sure whether he’s telling the truth, or lying to you.

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Well, if the Wikipedia entries are to be believed, be prepared for a full-on barrage of episode reviews over the next few weeks (we’ll see if I can stay sane watching and analyzing so much!). The next episode will feature segments where Star is visited by her fairy godmother, and Marco has some troubles of his own, revolving around a pair of dimensional scissors. See you back here soon for some analysis on the next episode!

Retro Recaps: Cheers (Season 11, Episode 21) – Woody Gets an Election

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Sometimes, we need a group of “lovable losers” in order to make the slings and arrows of life, a little less painful.

In 1982, NBC first aired the sitcom Cheers, about a Boston watering hole, and it’s eclectic clientele.

Though a ‘loser’ in the ratings it’s first few years, the NBC television network nurtured and supported the sitcom. As the years went by, it became one of their top-rated, and most-watched shows. However, as the show moved from the 80’s into the 90’s, it began to show it’s age.

Finally, it was decreed in 1992, that the show’s 11th season, would be it’s last.

NBC made a big deal about this in the Spring of 1993, counting down the 5 final episodes.

Today, we’ll recap the first episode in that countdown, that ended up putting one of the Cheers gang, into public office.

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After a small intro where Cliff Claven (Jon Ratzenberger) and Norm Peterson (George Wendt) meet former child actor George McFarland (who played Spanky on the original Little Rascals series), the main story begins.

Distrcit 3 City Councilman Kevin Fogerty (Philip Baker Hall) stops by Cheers, as part of his re-election campaign. This year, Fogerty has no challengers for his position, but still tries to talk it up with the common people.

As Fogerty gives a small speech before some local news cameras, Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer)  remarks how Fogerty is just spouting more “meaningless platitudes,” and the people “lap it up like milk.”

Sam Malone (Ted Danson) claims that Frasier is being ridiculous, but Frasier confronts Fogerty, and tries to get him to give valid reasons for why he should vote for him.

Sensing an audience around him, Fogerty counters Frasier’s comments, claiming that maybe people need to stop blaming City Hall for a lot of their own ills.

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“Well, people,” says Kevin, his voice building in intensity, “I say now is the time to start looking in the mirror. Because, if this thing is going to work, we are all going to have to make it work. The way a bunch of people made something work at Lexington and Concord. You may remember it. It’s called: America!”

The speech brings raucous applause from many in the bar, but as Fogarty exits, Frasier is in shock at what just happened.

“BUT HE DIDN’T, ‘SAY ANYTHING!'” he angrily blusters.

Frasier than goes on a small tirade, claiming the voters of Boston are ‘sheep,’ and that when it comes to elections, ‘people just shut off their brains.’

When Sam claims that Frasier is just overreacting, Frasier proposes a bet: put their bartender/friend Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson) on the ballot for District 3 City Councilman, and see if he can get at least 10% of the eligible vote.

Sam decides to take the wager, though the only one who isn’t so sure about the whole thing, is Woody, even though his wife Kelly (Jackie Swanson) claims she would be proud if he won.

“Kelly, I’m not gonna get mixed up in politics, “claims Woody. “You live your life in a fishbowl, everybody hates you, the press is always criticizing you. There’s no way I’m running for public office.”

All right, Mr.Stubborn,” says Kelly, heading for the door. “From now on, you can dance naked in front of the lava lamp all by your lonesome.”

“Well, maybe just one term,” he calls after her.

Shortly afterwards, Frasier gets Woody’s name on the ballot, simply petitioning outside a supermarket. Most had no idea who Woody is, but quickly signed when Frasier claimed that Woody  was “a man who stands for The American Way.”

Soon, a reporter from the Boston Herald (played by Peri Gilpin) comes by to interview Woody, about where he stands on local issues. Woody honestly claims he is just a farm boy, and the reporter assumes this is his ‘hook,’ metaphorically telling ‘the big city slickers to clean up the barn.’

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“Well, it’s kind of a cornball message, but you just might be the kind of guy who can sell that stuff,” says the reporter, leaving Woody to wonder why she didn’t want to talk to him about politics.

Some time later, the interview is published, painting  Woody in a favorable light. Frasier also happily reports that Woody’s poll numbers, have jumped to 8%.

Sam accepts defeat and agrees they can end the wager, but suddenly, Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley) requests they turn on the news. Apparently, Kevin Fogarty was just arrested for public drunkenness!

Seeing that such a thing could damage Fogarty’s reputation, it is then that the gang at Cheers decide to forget about the bet, and try to actually get Woody elected for real!

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Several of the Cheers gang begin phone canvassing out of the bar, trying to get more people to warm up to Woody (with Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) willing to use some less-than-subtle tactics to turn some voter’s opinions).

Eventually, the poll numbers show Woody pulling way ahead of Fogerty, who soon comes by to have a few candid words with Woody, and tell how he’s looking forward to their upcoming debate.

Woody gets a little unnerved, and confesses to Frasier about having to state his opinions on live television.

“Nothing to worry about, Woody,” says Frasier. “Just tell some more of those farm stories, people seem to love those. If that doesn’t work, just say the word ‘change’ about a hundred times.”

Frasier eagerly grabs his coat, and rushes Woody out the door to go over some things for the debate. As they go out the door, Frasier continues to verbally ‘think big’ about what the future could hold for Woody.

“With my brains and your smile, who knows how high we can go: Congressman, Senator…who knows?”

The camera then cuts to the inauguration of a new US President, and we see Woody being sworn in…however, it takes him a few tries to properly recite the oath of office.

The scene then cuts to sometime later, with Woody sitting in the Oval Office, angrily talking on the phone.

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“Oh yeah?” he yells into the receiver. “Well I’m calling your bluff. I’m firing my missiles too. All of em!”

Slamming down the phone, his wife Kelly asks who he was talking to.

“How the hell should I know? The phone rings, I answer it.”

We then see a radioactive mushroom cloud bloom, before Frasier wakes up in a cold sweat! Apparently, it was all a nightmare.

Rushing back to Cheers, Frasier finds Woody reading through the Constitution, in case he decides to run for “Congreff” (Frasier corrects Woody, who assumed the colonial S’s in the Constitution, looked like f’s).

Frasier doesn’t tell of his dream, but tries to deter Woody, claiming that the path they have embarked on is wrong.

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“Listen, the right to vote, it’s far too sacred to cheapen by some, vain psychological experiment,” lectures Frasier. “I mean, your winning an election without knowing anything at all about politics, it would just make a mockery of the entire Democratic Process!”

Woody does take Frasier’s advice, and that evening on the debate, he attempts to resign from the race. However, he suddenly breaks down in tears, growing emotional about the whole thing.

Seeing him an emotional wreck, his wife Kelly rushes onto the stage and comforts Woody, and ends up changing his mind (and probably winning him the admiration of some voters), when she suddenly reveals she’s pregnant!

Later on that evening, the final tally comes in, and Woody ends up becoming his district’s City Councilman.

After many in the bar congratulate him, Woody sees Frasier sitting in a corner, and thanks him for what has happened, claiming that Frasier is “directly responsible.”

“Noone can prove that,” says Frasier, apprehensively.

“I know you don’t have a lot of faith in me, Dr Crane,” says Woody, “but I’m gonna prove you wrong. I’m gonna study hard on all the issues, and I’m gonna be a great City Councilman, and maybe this is just the first rung on a very long ladder, and you’re the man who made it happen.”

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As Woody walks away, Frasier’s eyes take on a look of dread, remembering his nuclear-fueled nightmare from the other day.

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Season 11 was definitely one of big changes, as the show began it’s plans to ‘close up shop,’ and Woody’s election to the District 3 City Council in Boston was one of them.

The storyline of Woody becoming a Councilman would weave it’s way through the next four episodes, with Carla Tortelli soon being considered for Woody’s replacement role as bartender at Cheers.

What’s also interesting about the casting for this episode, is that one of the minor players, who even gets a few seconds of talking with Kelsey Grammar’s Frasier Crane, would be working with Grammar full-time over the next 11 years!

Peri Gilpin was cast as the reporter who interviews Woody, and later on that fall, she would become a regular on the show Frasier, as Frasier Crane’s radio show producer, Roz Doyle.

Over it’s lifespan, Cheers was never shy about bringing certain Political figures in for a minor guest-spot.

Most notable was in Season 2, where in an opening bit, Norm and Cliff run into a guy they assume is a local newscaster, but turns out to actually be State Senator, John Kerry.

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Of course, in Woody gets an Election, we also find out that Cliff has a rather unconventional ‘stalker-like’ tendency, to know as much as possible about some of the local politicians.

This is revealed when one of Fogerty’s security detail reminds Cliff that he needs to stay at least 50 ft away from Kevin.

In the following episode (titled, It’s Lonely on the Top), when Woody questions what a City Councilman’s day entails, Cliff gives a blow-by-blow of what Fogerty does in the morning.

“…years from now, they’re going to ask me, ‘why didn’t I see the signs?'” Frasier says to himself.

In the final episode of Cheers (titled, One for the Road), Woody’s swearing in for City Councilman took place (off-screen). We also got to see Frasier once again expressing some guilt over what had happened (“Oh, yes, the beginning of your political career. It started out as a small joke and turned into an enormous one.”), though he did attempt to help, when Woody couldn’t think of what to put down for his speech.

Once the ceremony is over, Frasier has a few words with Woody’s wife, Kelly. However, her socialite upbringing shows that she isn’t as knowledgeable about the public on certain things.

“You know, the city of Boston has lots of problems,” she tells Frasier. “I can’t imagine what they might be, but I know Woody is the man to solve them.”

She also makes mention how they need to make the city safe for their future child to be driven to private school.

“An inspiring thought,” says Frasier, biting his tongue.

After Cheers ended and the show Frasier began, the showrunners snuck in a few cameos and guest appearances from some of Frasier Crane’s old bar pals.

In Season 6 of the series, Woody ended up visiting Frasier in Seattle. Not much was said regarding his time as city councilman, but it was clarified that he had returned to working at Cheers.

The episode also served as a closer, as both Frasier and Woody realized that their lives had taken them down different paths, and they didn’t quite see eye-to-eye on certain things, as they once had.

Fittingly, the final scene between the two, was having a toast, with their final words being: “Cheers!”

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Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 14) – Bon Bon the Birthday Clown

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It’s finally here. That most special of special treats bestowed upon the fandom of Star vs the Forces of Evil: a full, 22-minute episode!

Of course, the title Bon Bon the Birthday Clown doesn’t sound quite as exciting as Season 1’s 22-minute episodes, but if we’ve learned anything from Season 2 so far, it’s to not judge an episode or segment by it’s title.

So, let’s see what this episode has in store for us!

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Star is eager to attend a seance with Janna, to resurrect Bon Bon the Birthday Clown, on his 100th ‘death day.’ However, she panics when she realizes the seance is the same night as the school dance, which she was planning to attend with Marco.

Things seem to work out, when Jackie Lynn Thomas asks Marco out to the dance, and he eagerly accepts! While Marco goes to the dance with Jackie, Star and Janna head to the cemetery, but as the night goes on, Star begins to have second thoughts about not going to the dance…

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 From the start of the episode, it becomes pretty apparent that Bon Bon is doing things a bit differently from what we’ve seen before. The introduction to the episode, almost feels like how The Simpsons usually start off their episodes: Sending you down a side path, and then eventually directing you onto the main one.

Director Giancarlo Volpe has directed some of my favorite segments this season (such as Mr Candle Cares, and Naysaya), and like those favorites, he definitely cranks up the emotions in this episode.

Front-and-center, is Star becoming a little more quiet than usual, upon seeing Marco and Jackie together. It’s definitely a different reaction for Star, who since Season 1, has kept championing Marco to hook up with his crush.

Star’s inner turmoil can be seen throughout of the episode as well. She tries to keep herself preoccupied with the seance, but in little moments here-and-there, we see her mind drifting. To watch the scenes is both intriguing and emotional, especially when it seems Star might be developing a small streak of…jealousy?

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Speaking of Marco and Jackie, seeing them together brought a big smile to my face. I have to commend the writers for not just sweeping their story arc under the rug after the last episode. Season 2 feels like it’s been a major champion of character development, and we get plenty of that here.

The writers get down so many of the nervous nuances about going to dances, as well as the awkwardness of first dates (Marco trying to make small-talk with Jackie? Yup, been there, done that). Plus, Jackie proves to be full of surprises in this episode.

On the lower end of the character-development spectrum in this episode, is Janna. Given the way we see her act around Marco, I can’t help but wonder if her obsession with invading his personal (and private!) space, is somehow tied to a previous crush she may have had on him when they were younger. Maybe something happened, and she turned that disappointment into just being weird and anarchic most of the time?

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This is one of those episodes that will probably leave some of the show’s fans feeling confused, and a little frustrated. There’s some pretty heavy stuff that happens in Bon Bon, but we don’t get any solid resolutions. It’s like the episode has set in motion several new pieces of machinery, but what they’ll produce, is still up in the air.

There are definitely a few things in the narrative that have left me pondering as well. One of them, is a sub-theme about rats, that weaves its way throughout. It feels like there’s meant to be some inter-linking connection about them, but after viewing the episode several times, I still haven’t been able to figure it out.

Ending the review on a positive note, it almost feels like the writers try to balance out the changes we experience, with some references and callbacks to previous episodes. Some past segments have just given us one or two, but Bon Bon really goes to town!  We get everything from visual references, to reused lines, and even a return of several spells Star used in the first season (I never thought I’d hear “syrup tsunami shockwave” again).

Final Grade: A-

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Best line from episode (said by Janna): Smell his butt. You’ll thank me later.

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Janna):  Ooo, that explosion did a real number on your face.

In the end, I struggled with trying to come up with my final grade for this episode. When comparing it to longer episodes like St Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, and Storm the Castle, I found that Bon Bon the Birthday Clown blew past them, with a more solid structure, and the way it dabbled a bit more in emotions, than action.

I’m always up for episodes that give us an emotional resonance, and this may be one of the first that really pushes hard in that area. Plus, the final moments, leave us even more eager to know what the final end-game will be for this season.

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(And, just as we jump back into Season 2, we’re pulled away! Word is this episode is considered a “winter finale,” which means we’ve most likely had our last taste of new “Star vs the Forces of Evil” episodes for the year 2016.

At this time, rumor is that maybe we’ll get our next episode in February of 2017, but until then, I plan to try and do some little “Animated Dissections” in regards to the series. I’m already working on one exploring Marco and Jackie’s relationship, and how it may be “a necessary evil” in the course of developing the show’s storyline.

Plus, the “Star vs the Forces of Evil” comic series is still being produced, and I intend to continue reviewing upcoming issues too. So, stick around. I don’t plan to have the winter hinder my thinking and analyzing this weird-and-wild series.)

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 13) – Page Turner / Naysaya

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Last week saw the return of Star vs the Forces of Evil from a short hiatus, bringing forth further revelations, both with characters, and the history of the world of Mewni.

This week somewhat continues that same trend, but episode 13 has some of its own twists and turns to maneuver through.

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-Page Turner-

When Glossaryck of Terms suggests Star choose what to study next in her wand’s instruction manual, she zeroes in on some forbidden texts about one of her ancestors.

Glossaryck is all set to make sure things don’t get too out-of-hand…until he’s summoned to a special meeting by the Magic High Commission. Unfortunately, trying to get to said meeting, is not as easy as it sounds.

You know those commercials, that make you think something big is going to happen to the show you’re watching? Well, Page Turner is like one of those commercials: they tease you, and then, instead of going down the expected path, they veer hard-right! Personally,  I feel we got more meaningful revelations in last episode’s segment, Into the Wand!

This segment mainly belongs to Glossaryck, as we see him dealing with the rigors of magical bureaucracy, which is like dealing with the incompetency of Quest Buy’s sloths, and Roy from the Goblin Dogs segment.

Once we started following Glossaryck on his own little adventure, I was fearful that this segment would probably fall apart. However, it just barely holds itself together, as we get a new location, and a number of new creatures to deal with (though the big question is, will they return for a more meaningful story in the future?), let alone one inconvenience after another.

There are still some revelations to be had (and a familiar face or two show up near the end), but, it feels like quite a lot of ‘nothing,’ to get to the few moments of ‘something’ the segment has been leading up to.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Glossaryck of Terms): “I don’t know! ‘Is everything alright?’ ‘Did you get on the right flight?’ ‘Are you running late?’ ‘Are you cracked?’ ‘Are you confused?’ ‘Are you MAD!!?'”

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-Naysaya-

Marco works up the courage to ask Jackie Lynn Thomas to hang out, but finds himself saying something totally embarrassing, every time he tries. Things don’t get much better when a small head grows out of his neck, and randomly shouts out his insecurities at inopportune moments!

As a person who has been looking forward to a segment focusing on Marco working through his feelings for Jackie, Naysaya was a ray of sunshine. Plus, several of Marco’s reactions, I could totally relate to (pounding your head on the table after a crushing emotional defeat? Yeah, I’ve been there, Marco).

Star and Janna also provide some decent support in the segment, with Star acting as a cheerleader to Marco’s wooing attempts, and Janna adding dribbling bits of snark regarding his misfortunes. What’s also fun, is that they find nothing freaky about the little Naysaya growing out of Marco’s neck.

The miniature head known as Naysaya, is almost like a combination of Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, and the overfilled zit Pustulio, from Invader Zim (luckily, with no possibility of a pus explosion!). He doesn’t get a whole lot of character development for mostly being the voice of Marco’s innermost secrets, but there is at least a small backstory showing that his growth is not an isolated incident.

Also welcome, was hearing Grey Griffin voicing more of Jackie. Following the segment Sleepover, it is nice to hear how Grey works the valley girl vibe with Jackie, regarding most of what Marco says.

There are also some past references, to tie Naysaya into other segments us die-hard fans know and love. Notable among these, is Janna’s infatuation with getting access to everything Marco has or owns (seriously, will we ever find out what is up with that!?).

Where it feels like the segment doesn’t reach high enough, is how it spends a little too much time with the multiple confessions of embarrassment from Marco and Naysaya. I understand teenagers have a lot of insecurities (been there, done that), but it feels like they could probably have used a few of those minutes for some other things. Plus, a few things Marco mentions that are meant to sound endearing, may make some go, “um, that’s a bit freaky.”

In the end, this is one segment that I enjoyed, but I could see certain fanshippers hissing at it like a scared cat. It does bring some questions into play as to what the future may bring (especially after what we see in the last 30 seconds!), and I hope some future segments will build on the character development shown here.

Final Grade: B

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Ohhh, you made a little Marco Junior!”

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “Uh, Janna? That’s, that’s, not his hand, that’s-“

Like several episodes this season, this one was a bit of a mixed bag.

Page Turner‘s title seemed to promise hidden secrets, but instead, turned into a character study for Glossaryck of Terms. Though it was somewhat interesting to find out a bit more about where he’s been (and where he’s going), this segment may prove a disappointment to those who expected more secrets to be revealed, following last episode’s segment, Into the Wand.

Naysaya to me, ends up being the stronger and more entertaining of the two segments, and has some decent replay value. As someone who has longed to see more time given over to Marco working through his feelings for Jackie Lynn Thomas, I was willing to forgive the plot’s rather repetitive nature of just throwing out most of Marco’s ‘dirty laundry,’ in the form of the segment’s talking head. Star and Jackie also keep the comedy flowing in this piece, acting as both angel and devil to Marco’s conflicted emotions for his crush.

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starep213-6(And now, we come to that most cherished of gifts from this series. Next week, we get a full, 22-minute episode! We had two in Season 1, and this is the first for Season 2. The title of this upcoming episode? “Bon Bon the Birthday Clown.” Yeah, not as exciting as our previous full-episode release titles. Early summaries tell of Janna taking Star to a dead clown’s seance, but Star seems a little perturbed about Marco taking Jackie to a dance. Could this be an episode where my hopes and dreams for Marco and Jackie are dashed, and the younger, more rabid fanshippers will be dancing in the streets? Come back in 7 days, and we’ll find out!)