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Parks and Recreation Special Review- Leslie Knope’s Response to COVID-19

PARKS AND RECREATION SPECIAL -- Pictured: "Parks and Recreation Special" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

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The amazing cast and creators of Parks and Recreation returned with a half-hour special to help raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response fund.

We got to see our favorite characters deal with quarantine and social distancing measures, and it was everything we could’ve dreamed of and more. Not only did the entire main cast return, but several fan-favorite guest stars made an appearance.

The episode starts out with a message from Bobby Newport, a.k.a. Paul Rudd, explaining the mission behind the special and what we can do to help. He was as charming as ever. Bobby Newport has always been a reflection of Americans who are completely out of touch with the world around them, so it’s not surprising he has no idea what COVID-19 is. Hopefully, someone will explain it to him.

Leslie Knope, on the other hand, is well-aware of COVID-19 and the affects it’s having on the world. She’s closed all the parks in her jurisdiction and is taking her job very seriously. She’s the perfect person to count on at a time like this. She’s even set up a phone tree to make sure all of her best friends are being checked on during this time. Whether or not they want to be checked on is a different story, but it’s impossible to say no to Leslie.

Everything about this special was so perfectly in character. The different ways people were experiencing the quarantine made perfect sense. The magic of Parks and Recreation was always its distinctive characters, and it’s refreshing to see how well it holds up five years later. Time flies, but it feels like we never left Pawnee.

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Most of the episode takes place in a video-call format, which lends really well to filming an episode about quarantine while everyone’s actually in it. They had to be a bit creative to explain why the show’s married couples weren’t in the same room, but they pulled it off.

Andy locked himself in his shed and refused to ask for April’s help getting out. That’s very typical Andy Dwyer. Bert Macklin would never accept defeat. I wish we got to see more of April in the special, but a thirty-minute time slot kept most characters’ appearances pretty short.

Chris Pratt also reprised his role as Johnny Karate, beloved Pawnee children star. We may not be able to karate chop the virus away, but at least he’s still trying to motivate the kids! Johnny Karate assured us that things will get back to normal eventually, anywhere from a week from now to a couple of hundred years or so. Hopefully, the former.

Parks and Recreation explained that Ann and Chris were quarantined in separate parts of their home because Ann had gone back to work as a nurse. The healthcare system needs all the help they can get, so it adds up that Ann would be back out on the front lines. Chris is quite literally the healthiest man alive, but he wouldn’t want to risk exposure for him or their children. Especially since he’s now been selected for testing to help build the vaccine. His red blood cells are apparently so large they can be seen with the naked eye, so if we could bottle his immunity, we’d all be set. Sadly, Chris Traeger isn’t real, but maybe Parks and Rec is onto something about Megan Rapinoe…

Ben and Leslie’s separation was a bit harder to explain, but it ended up being boiled down to Leslie’s need to work during this pandemic. She does her video calls from the office whenever she gets a break, while Ben’s at home with the kids. Unfortunately, this isolation has taken a toll on Ben. That’s right, he’s making more claymation.

Requiem for a Tuesday was a cry for help if I’ve ever seen one, so it’s safe to say the quarantine was affecting his mental state. He comes around by the end of the special, but Leslie might need to keep an eye on him! It was genius for the writers to bring back claymation and The Cones of Dunshire to show how Ben’s doing. His short film is one of the most referenced jokes from the show’s seven-season run, and it was inevitable that all of this time alone would make Ben revert back to his most useless habit. We’ve all found ourselves reaching new levels of boredom the longer quarantine goes on, but I beg, please do not make a claymation film.

Tom and Donna’s parts in the special showed the two are still treating themselves the best they can in a pandemic. They’re pretending to go on a beach vacation now, but I’m sure they’ll go on a real one as soon as this all ends.

Ron ran away to his cabin with Dianne and the kids when Tammy II shows up. It’s convenient that Ron and Tammy II’s actors are married in real life, so they were able to be a bit more creative with that storyline. Their violent relationship has always been horrifying to watch, but it’s nothing if not hilarious. And Ron’s right, the wolves should be scared if she’s loose in the woods.

We also got to see brief appearances from recurring characters like Joan Callamezzo, Perd Hapley, Jean-Ralphio, and more. It’s nice how many actors came back for the special on such short notice.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Parks and Recreation special without Li’l Sebastian. Ron got the whole gang together (virtually) to surprise Leslie with Mouse Rat’s hit single, “5,000 Candles In The Wind.” The tribute song would make anyone cry (unless you’re Ben), and it certainly warmed Leslie’s heart, as well as the rest of ours.

Parks and Rec came back exactly when we needed it most. It was such a special show, and hopefully, this won’t be the last time the cast reunites. Under better circumstances, another reunion special would be a great idea. We miss you, Pawnee!

Oh, and as for Jerry’s appearance-


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Netflix

Umbrella Academy Review – Season 2 Finale Ends In Shocking Twist (2 x 10)

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Umbrella Academy wrapped up season 2 with the finale episode, “The End Of Something,” which pitted the Hargreeves against the Handler and an entire army of Commission assassins. Vanya also saves Harlan, and shocking revelations about Lila come to the surface.

Plus, a shocking twist ending that has huge implications for season 3.

This season’s finale ties together every story arc leading up to the end, and it’s a thrilling ride that leaves a lot of future plotlines open for anything.

Public Enemy #1

Following the events from the previous episode, the Hargreeves become wanted criminals as they’re used as scapegoats for JFK’s assassination.

Each of them is inexplicably connected to a historical event or figure as Diego is suspected of being involved with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Luther’s ties with Jack Ruby makes him a person of interest. Vanya is believed to be a Soviet spy. Allison’s political activism labels her as a radical.

Finally, Klaus is described as a “controversial cult leader and known tax evader.” (Which might be a political jab at our current POTUS)

Although Five is surprisingly only seen as an “innocent” hostage of the group, even though he committed the most horrible acts this season.

Also, Vanya confides the message Ben left for Klaus to him, and a burden seems to be lifted from his conscience.

After sensing Harlan is in trouble, Vanya then urges her siblings to go with her to save him.

At first, they’re reluctant to do so but after Vanya goes off alone, the siblings join her one at a time, in a hilarious scene with each member squeezing into Vanya’s not so spacious station wagon. Luther is the last to get on as the car’s body sinks due to his weight.

Farm War

Ironically, out of all the places the siblings touched and interfered with during their time in the 1960s, Vanya getting involved with Harlan at the farm turns out to be the historical anomaly that the Handler detected, which prompted her to summon the full strength of the Commission’s assassin army.

While Vanya is stuck trying to help Harlan overcome his uncontrollable powers, the rest of the Hargreeves try to fend off the Commission army.

One particularly awesome scene includes Diego channeling his inner Neo from The Matrix as he stops a barrage of bullets in mid-air to keep them from hitting Five, and he redirects them to a tractor which then explodes.

Eventually, the Hargreeves are backed into a corner as they’re forced to take cover from the overwhelming gunfire.

The gunfire interferes with Vanya trying to talk Harlan down as a bullet penetrates the field of power circling around Harlan. He’s knocked unconscious, so Vanya is forced to confront the army of assassins.

Vanya comes out of the barn floating and a white glow from her chest starts charging her power. In one move, Vanya disposes of the entire assassin army but when the dust settled, Lila and the Handler are untouched due to a mysterious force field.

Lila’s Secret Powers

After Vanya’s incredible display of power, Lila immediately retaliates using the same power against the Hargreeves siblings.

In a funny meta-commentary in response to her attack, Klaus says, “She destroyed, like, half the farm with a shock wave. So unoriginal”

Eventually, it’s revealed that Lila is able to mimic and redirect the powers of anyone she encounters. Which makes the siblings theorize that she might be like one of them (a super-powered child born on October 1, 1989, as mentioned in season 1).

This is hilariously followed-up by Diego asking the question: “But she’s not our biological sister, right?”

Having previously had sex with Lila, Diego worries he might have committed incest, but everyone just gives him a dumbfounded look.

Apart from mirroring Vanya’s energy blast, she matches Luther’s strength, reverses Allison’s rumor, and blinks around like Five.

While Lila keeps the siblings busy, the Handler’s true intention is revealed when she tries to convince Harlan to come with her.

Seconds, Not Decades

Lila divulges the details of Kill Order #743 to Five as she reveals that he killed her parents under the orders of AJ.

Five tells her the order was made by the Handler, but Lila doesn’t believe him and she promises to kill him slowly.

This is when the rest of the Hargreeves siblings intervene, particularly Diego, who slowly tries to convince Lila to betray the Handler and join them instead because Lila is essentially their “sister.”

This is when another funny dialogue is delivered when Luther makes an off-beat remark and says, “Well you know what, love shouldn’t hurt this much.”

Lila, justifiably, makes a puke gesture.

Shockingly, the Handler comes out of nowhere and shoots the siblings, killing all but Five and Lila. She then confronts the Handler but is killed as well because she knows the truth about her parents.

Then, in another shocking twist, the surviving Swede shows up and kills the Hander. As the Swede approaches Five about to kill him too, Five remembers his father’s advice with time-travel (“Seconds, not decades”). He reverses time and saves everyone except for the Handler who the Swede still manages to kill. However, Lila escapes with a briefcase because Diego stop Luther from subduing her.

Five and the Swede then agree to leave each other alone as he says “Enough,” which the Swede agrees to.

Klaus then comments “Who the hell was that guy?” referring to the Swede because Klaus had never actually seen him before.

Vanya is then finally able to save Harlan by reabsorbing her powers.

Aftermath:

After the events at the farm,

  • Herb the analyst is made head of the commission
  • Sissy tells Vanya she wants to stay in 1963 with Harlan
  • Allison leaves Ray an inspiring and encouraging letter that underscores the final moments of the episode with an incredible monologue saying:

“Keep faith. Believe that good things will happen because the fight for a better world is never over.”

  • David gets shipped to boot camp.
  • The Swede is picked up by Klaus’ cult, now lead by Keechie.
  • Harlan is shown to retain some of Vanya’s powers

Finally Back In 2019 But…

After Five secures a briefcase, he and the other Hargreeves siblings succeed in going back to April 2, 2019, in a world still intact and apocalypse free.

However, they are shocked to find that Reginald Hargreeves is still alive, and has raised a different group of super-powered children called the Sparrow Academy.

Who are led by a still alive and kicking Ben Hargreeves who asks “Dad, who the hell are these assholes?”

Implying that the timeline has changed and they’re once again in a lot of trouble. The episode ends with the Umbrella Academy collectively saying “Shit!”

VERDICT: 10/10

Unlike last season’s more doom and gloom ending scene, this season’s finale of Umbrella Academy almost seemed like it was headed in a positive direction but pulls the rug from under the audience at the very last second in the best way!

The tease of Ben’s potential return in a different role has countless implications for season 3.

First of all, who are the other members of the Sparrow Academy!?

Since Reginald is alive, are Pogo and Grace back in the fold as well?

What’s going to happen to the Commission now that the Handler and all its assassins are gone?

Is Lila going to be a factor? If so, will she be good or bad?

So many new questions waiting to be answered after a successful season toying with a mystery that unraveled spectacularly as the season went along.

The next season of Umbrella Academy can’t come fast enough and we are all for it!


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The 100

The 100 Review- *SPOILER* Dies (7×10)

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The 100 Season 7 Episode 10 A Little Sacrifice Review

The 100 returns from its three-week hiatus with another installment of Clarke Griffin being in that exact same room pointing a gun at Cadogan. But this time she finally gets to leave.

Before I talk about what happens on Bardo, I want to discuss Sanctum. Out of all the questionable choices the seventh season of The 100 has made, focusing so much on Sanctum has to be the worst one. It doesn’t make sense to focus so much on this one planet when we’ve learned there’s a whole universe of interconnected ones out there. Sanctum isn’t the only choice anymore. There’s so much violence there, so why not just leave? You don’t have to stay with Sheidheda and fight for this small piece of land and a half-burnt down castle.

J.R. Bourne does an amazing job as Sheidheda, but he’s being forced to be the lead of a show that’s not his. I wanted Indra to have a bigger role on the show, but not like this. Not when all she’s doing is fighting the least interesting villain this show’s ever seen. Even his big confrontation with Madi felt lackluster. I don’t know when the Sanctum storyline will merge with Bardo’s, but the sooner the better.

Back on the slightly more interesting planet, Clarke uses her advantage of being the key to get alone time with the “three most dangerous women on this or any planet.” So, we’re starting off early with the bad writing this episode. (I don’t even want to talk about Miller telling people to “get the flock out” of the stone room.)

It’s strange how Clarke never asks anyone how Bellamy died, and just seems to accept that it happened. I’m sure it could be chalked up to the stress of the current situation, but it’s a weird choice considering how Bellamy reacted to Clarke’s “death” last season. There were multiple scenes of him breaking down over her. Are we supposed to feel like Bellamy cares more about Clarke than she cares about him? I find that really hard to believe considering she called him every day for six years. We barely have her acknowledge his death at all, besides a brief apology to Octavia when they reunite.

Even at the end of the episode Echo acknowledges how much Clarke’s death would have affected Bellamy, so why don’t we get to see that from her? Clarke’s never allowed to grieve, and it couldn’t be more frustrating. By now I think we’ve all realized the chances of a Bellarke romance in this season are slim, but this makes it feel impossible.

It was nice to see Clarke and Octavia hug after everything they’ve been through together. Only two seasons ago they were actively trying to kill each other. While Clarke’s barely been in this season, and I don’t think all of these reconciliations are deserved, it’s nice to see her have friends again.

The moment between Octavia and Miller was also a great surprise. They’ve known each other since the beginning and went through some really traumatic things together in the bunker. Octavia was the cause of most of them, but whatever. It’s still sweet.

Fans of the Levitt and Octavia pairing are probably disappointed she left him tied up after learning of Echo’s plans, but that’s the most in-character thing she’s done this season. She barely knew him anyway. It’s funny how Levitt is supposed to be a really smart guy who was entrusted with something as important as M-CAP on Bardo, and he didn’t even consider that Clarke might not still have the flame in her. He watched what happened right before she got it put in. It was never meant to be a permanent thing.

It’s been a while since Octavia’s memories were originally taken. Why wouldn’t they have gone back in to learn more about the key they’ve been waiting for? Maybe Jordan’s onto something, and the people of Bardo aren’t so smart after all.

The lunch between Cadogan and Gabriel felt very reminiscent of seasons two and three, where we heard that “love is weakness” every ten minutes. We’ve been down this road before. In theory, it makes sense that you’re saving yourself heartache by giving up on love and familial bonds. But ultimately, that’s what makes life worth living. I love any scene with Gabriel Santiago, but was this one really necessary?

My favorite part of this episode was the end scene in the ventilation room. We’ve been waiting for Echo to go full Finn 2.0, and it was really gratifying to hear her admit that all she wants is vengeance. If she went through with it, she would’ve been even worse than Finn. What he did was horrible, but at least he was trying to save Clarke. Echo just wants to make other people feel her pain.

Of course, she couldn’t go through with it, otherwise, the season would’ve ended then and there, but I’m worried that she’ll be completely forgiven for stopping it at the last minute. If she and Bellamy reunite, he should still be appalled at her actions and her plan even though she didn’t go through with it at the end. It’s still something so far from what he would have wanted that any kind of reconciliation between them will feel forced.

Have we ever needed more proof that Echo doesn’t really know or love Bellamy? He would never have done the same thing, and the fact that she truly thinks he would is absurd. Also, I think it’s worth noting that Echo said he would do it for Octavia and Clarke as well. His relationship with Octavia has been strained for a while, but I can understand why she’d equate Octavia’s importance to Bellamy to her own. But, Clarke?

She’s not wrong in any way, it’s just weird for her to admit that. Bellamy spent six years with Raven on the ring, and yet Echo doesn’t think he’d do this for her. So, why do we keep hammering home the fact that Clarke is so important to Bellamy if we’re never going to explain why? She’s not just his best friend, and she never has been. Come on, pick a side! Either write romantic subtext or don’t. Don’t keep playing with your audience by adding in throwaway lines that you’re never going to do anything about.

And I don’t know, there’s something about the way Echo screams that Clarke would have no idea what Bellamy wanted that makes me think there’s something more to it. But, maybe I’m just misinterpreting.

Did anyone else find it strange that Raven’s the one to get through to Echo in the end? We’ve been told that “Spacekru” is a family, but I cannot think of any meaningful on-screen interaction we’ve seen between these two characters. They’re not sisters, and their makeshift family does not have the narrative importance the writers think it does. But, whatever. We’ve been focusing on character dynamics no one cares about all season long anyway.

I’m sad to see Diyoza go, but that was a great ending to her story. She died saving her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. Shelby Flannery and Ilana Miličević both gave great performances in Diyoza’s final moments. This will no doubt have a major influence on Hope’s character arc going forward, as well as Octavia’s.

There are only six episodes left in the season. What are you hoping to see before it comes to an end?

Stray Thoughts:

  • It probably wasn’t supposed to be funny, but I’ve never laughed harder at The 100 then when Sheidheda came out in his new look.
  • It’s slightly cool to see Murphy in a more rational, protective role, but this type of character development feels rushed. Are we forgetting he was willing to let Clarke die last season for a chance at immortality? That’s not someone worth believing in.
  • Bellamy’s choices in season three are not the same as Echo’s plan to wipe out Bardo. They should not have been compared.
  • For someone who’s only been in five minutes of the season, Bellamy sure drives a lot of the plot.
  • If one individual has to be tested to decide the fate of the human race, it should definitely not be Cadogan. But who should it be? Clarke? Gabriel?

Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments below!


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Big Brother

Big Brother All-Stars Review: The Game Has Begun (22×01)

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Big Brother All-Stars Episode 1 Review

Just when we thought that COVID-19 was going to take everything near and dear to our hearts this summer, CBS saved the day with the announcement of a brand new All-Stars season of Big Brother, the first time since 2006 with a cast made entirely of returning players. Not only that, but it was announced that the cast would be announced live, as well as the first ever live move-in event.

It’s clear that the production team of the show is working hard to contain any possible spread of the virus, sequestering the cast separately, and testing them several times, and making it official that all live shows will be done without a studio audience. While the HouseGuests were wearing masks onstage before entering the house, they were allowed to remove them when host Julie Chen Moonves let them in.

The cast were let into the house in 4 groups of 4, and they were immediately put to the test, as they were asked to find an item inside the house, then run outside to a table maze, where they had to navigate a ball around a map of the house to land in the room where the item is. The 2 people to successfully do it per group were to compete for the first Head of Household competition. Once everyone was working on the maze, the background music was playing an incredible vamp that would happen during a Broadway musical while waiting for a scene to be over so the orchestra could continue. Not every group had 2 finishers, so only 6 people qualified for the Head of Household competition: Ian Terry (winner of season 14); Christmas Abbott (season 19); Nicole Anthony (season 21); Cody Calafiore (runner-up of season 16); Kevin Campbell (season 11); and Memphis Garrett (runner-up of season 10).

Before the Head of Household competition, the HouseGuests discover who they are going to be playing the game with. It was honestly hilarious watching them all laugh, hug, and get excited about who is around, and Julie was constantly yelling at them to sit down on the couches so she can explain the next set of rules, but absolutely NO ONE listened. Honestly, when this pandemic is over, that’s how I’ll be reacting to seeing my friends for the first time in months.

We then move to the first Head of Household competition of the summer (is it summer anymore? Who knows, but Julie kept saying “summer”). The 6 competitors had to jump across tiny platforms to the other side. Sounds simple, but some platforms were wobbly, causing people to fall. If you fall, you have to start over. Fastest time wins! Memphis was first, and I don’t know if it was his skinny jeans or the fact that he hasn’t played since 2008, but he struggled to get across, making gigantic leaps just to get to a platform maybe 2 feet away, and when he finished the course in about 75 seconds, he looked exhausted. Could’ve been stress of going first, or wiping out several times on national TV. Cody went next, and absolutely dominated, completing the course in 22 seconds. In the end, it didn’t matter what happened with everyone else, Cody wins and will be the first one to have all the power in the house, and nominate 2 people for eviction.

Now when a live broadcast is occurring, there will always be some, shall we say, technical discrepancies, or this case, house problems. 4 of the 5 losers of the HOH competition were made Have-Not’s for the week, which is a staple of Big Brother, where HouseGuests must eat gross food (known as slop), sleep in uncomfortable beds, and take cold showers all week. Ian, Memphis, Kevin, and Nicole all drew the short straw (Christmas’s neck was saved, and she won an early cash tip of $5,000), and Julie directed them to the room they will be staying in, which is entered only by a small crawlspace. After several attempts by all 4, the door to the room wouldn’t open, and Julie had to quickly intervene and cut to commercial, jokingly laughing it off saying that the doors were locked. It was a small uncomfortable moment, but in live TV, anything goes.

Julie reveals to the audience, and to the HouseGuests that throughout the season, special rooms will be revealed inside the house, which could heavily benefit their game. The first one is called “The Safety Suite,” which is going to save 2 HouseGuests this week, but more on that Sunday night, when Cody reveals his nominations!

My Current Winner Pick:
Dani Briones (maiden name Donato). Dani has unfinished business for this season, finishing as the runner-up in season 8 (losing to her father, Dick Donato), and coming in 8th on season 13 (where she met her now hubby, Dominic Briones). She’s a great player, both physically, and socially, able to stay behind the scenes if necessary, but can target people and get them out without losing sleep. I’m hoping she can pull something out, but in a game that’s changing every second, “expect the unexpected.”


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