Zach’s Zany…Netflix Game Show Reviews? WTF?: FLOOR IS LAVA!!!!

“This motherfucker is desperate for some clicks right here!” – future quote from one of you. That’s right, I’m going to do a small review on the new binge-able game show from Netflix that is sweeping the nation, FLOOR IS LAVA. It is ten episodes, ranging between 27-37 minutes each, and is a fantastic, fun, easy and cheesy way to kill 5 hours of your time. It was created and hosted by Auto Racing Analyst and co-host of Top Gear, Rutledge Wood, and the game is exactly as it sounds, but to the extreme. It’s basically one giant room filled with bubbly color dyed orange red water, that is transformed into 5 different kinds of settings with many obstacles and challenges to get from one side of the room to the other. There are different paths to take and sometimes you may have to go out of your way for a bit only to backtrack to make your journey easier. You have two to three contestants per group, and 2 to 3 groups compete depending on the episode. Depending on the number of people, you can get up to 3 points, but say only 1 or 2 people get across in one group, and then the same number get across in another group in the same room episode, the tie breaker is the least amount of time one or both people made it to the finish. And if you or none of your group makes it across, you are basically out of the competition, unless nobody from all groups make it but…spoiler alert…that never happened in the ten episodes I saw.

The five different rooms are: The Basement, The Bedroom, The Planetarium, The Kitchen, and The Study. With ten episodes, each room is done twice, but with two different levels, one being made a little more difficult than the other. Some paths have secret buttons or ropes that can be pulled that will either help or hinder your group, and some paths are safer or more dangerous than others. The “lava” is just a bubbling slicker kind of water with heavy food coloring and jets to make it look like it is bubbling out of a volcano. It’s actually pretty neat and visually amazing. There are some teams you will root for, like the smart or physically fit ones, and there are some teams you wish would just shut the fuck up and fall in already because they are loud and whiny or dumb and have the personalities of dead moths. Rutledge Wood narrates the whole thing, and has a grand voice and a witty personality, but he needs better writers for his dumb and cheesy one liners that always fell flat to me. But it’s all in good fun. The prize? $10,000 each episode to the winning group.

I just wished there were more than just 5 rooms. It is big enough to do different types of settings, and maybe get more out of them than just being ordinary house room set ups. Have a jungle room, or an Antarctica room, or a science fiction room, or a movie room. The possibilities and challenges are endless. Maybe they will have more up their sleeves next season. Also, they need to bring back the winners to some of these rooms and challenge other winners in a different set up that neither has played before. That would be interesting to see. This season, anybody that wins or loses doesn’t come back for a second round, which was a little disappointing. Some I would like to see do different rooms for sure. Don’t bring back everybody though, there are some groups of…younger millennials I could go my whole life without ever seeing again.

Floor Is Lava will make you want to create a set up in your home after you’ve watched 10 episodes and, albeit rather carefully, play it with your family. Shit, my two year old loved this show, every time someone didn’t make it or fell into the lava he’d go “he/she fall down!” or “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH MY GOSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH!” My wife and I had a lot of fun watching it as a family. A great time killer, even though I wish it were more challenging next time with hopefully more zany and fun obstacles and rooms for people to have to get through. You’ll be cringing and yelling at the screen, giving contestants advice and criticism even though you know they can’t hear you. It’s interactive without being interactive, and this amount of fun is kind of what we need right now, don’t you think?

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Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: 13 REASONS WHY SEASON 4 – THE FINAL SEASON (Netflix)

Oh boy, here we go! A lot of you hate that I watch and review this show. 13 REASONS WHY in general, it’s a series that people love to hate. And I get why, but then again, I don’t. Some people say it glorifies suicide and violence, and I really don’t agree with that logic. But then, the people that say they hate the show because it makes them more depressed about life including graphic depictions of rape and bullying, that I can see their logic on. The show is quite depressing at times and the bullying does become a bit too much in some episodes. I considered the whole thing to be a entertaining binge-able cautionary tale…well…maybe until now. At points, during this final batch of episodes I wanted to jump on the hate train right along with ya’ll. SEASON 4, THE FINAL SEASON, is absolutely fucking abysmal at points, and I started this review not knowing if I would ultimately recommend it or not. There is a course correction almost half way through the season that gets it back on track but then when the giant movie length (98 minutes) series finale episode hits, it mildly becomes frustrating again. To pin point that frustration: one of the ending fates of one of the characters makes absolutely no fucking sense. Episode 1, 3, and 4 of the new season are so…so bad, that I’ve been told from certain people that they stopped watching and quit the series…so close to the end. I’ll ditch something mid series with no end in sight (like The Blacklist) if I have to, but if I’m only a handful of episodes away to the very, very end…to quit would seem like a wasted journey. There is no doubt in my mind that Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why will never be beat. It is near perfect in its storytelling and execution. Season 2 stretches out Hannah Baker’s story to the point where it sags all the way to the ground, and Clay seeing and talking to Hannah’s ‘ghost’ was kind of a buzzkill. That ghost bullshit almost almost got me to quit then. But then Season 3 got things back on track with a cool murder mystery and pacing that almost matched the first season. I don’t know where to put Season 4, the final one, as it’s easily a photo finish between this and the second one, but they are both so roller coaster bat shit on and off tone at times that I really can’t decide. Hopefully I can find the reasons why, to put them in a solid and concrete preferred order.

My reviews are usually long for this series, but that’s because I go into full on spoiler territory. For this final season, I’m not going to do that, instead I will just state in broad terms what worked and what didn’t work for me. Let’s get the shit out of the way, as since this will be my final say as the series as a whole, I’d rather end on something good than something where I just seem like an angry butt hurt fan. Season 1 dealt with Hannah Baker and why she ultimately decided to end her life. Season 2 dealt with the trail of Bryce Larkin, who is taken to court by Hannah’s parents as they and her friends had a confession and other evidence that he raped her. Season 3 was, “who killed Bryce Larkin?”. And Season 4 deals with all of our main characters dealing with the after math of Bryce’s murder and a frame job, graduating high school, moving on with life, and there is a mystery introduced in a flash forward at the very beginning of the first episode back, and that is: “who is in the coffin?” The answer to that mystery is emotionally sad, paced & acted to perfection, but logically it didn’t make much sense (especially when you think about the cause of death and modern medicine). But that one fate (the rest had pretty good endings) was not the worst part of this final round, oh no, that would be episodes 1, 3…and possibly the worst episode of the entire series, 4. I forgot to say the main character whose perspective we mainly follow throughout all 4 seasons is Clay Jensen played to top notch perfection by Dylan Minnette. He has been the one true voice of the show (except for sharing it with Hannah Baker in Season 1 and Ani in Season 3) and probably the most decent character out of the main group of friends that include Jessica, Justin, Alex, Zach, Tyler, Tony, and Ani. Now, remember in Season 2 when he was talking to Hannah’s ghost? Where it seemed like he was losing his fucking mind? The first half of the final season doubles down on that. You have Clay talking to both Bryce and Monty’s ghosts (both died last season) and then you even have some of the other characters, like Jessica, seeing shit as well. I get wanting the now dead actors to still come back and receive a paycheck but… it’s very odd and off putting.

It’s like they took the main tone of the series, which is supposed to be depressing teen angst, and tried to give it horror based elements, and it just didn’t work at all. When you think of 13 Reasons Why can you imagine thinking about Clay hallucinating that he’s seeing blood coming out of the school shower heads and being covered head to toe in red? No? Well then prepare yourself, because that is what happens at some point in the first handful of episodes. The sin of the first episode is just dragged out boring set up, the real crime is the entirety of episode 4. Episode 4, titled ‘Senior Camping Trip’, gets my nomination for one of the worst episodes of television…ever. Per Imdb.com, in that episode, “Clay is forced to confront his anxiety on the senior camping trip as a suspicious email threatens to turn the friends against each other.” This doesn’t even begin to describe the zaniness to come. All of the kids get freaked out and start seeing shit that isn’t there, and a couple even claim the woods are ‘haunted.’ I don’t want to spoil too much of it, you just have to witness this bat shit crazy bullshit on your own, but needless to say, the tone of this episode doesn’t match of the rest of the series, and it is glaringly noticeable. I know that the writers were probably trying to think outside the box to not get repetitive in their storytelling…but this was NOT the way to go…at all. So bad that if I ever decide to re check out the series, it’ll be a stain on my brain and I will make sure to skip it on my next go around. Episode 3’s crime deals with the blood coming out of the showers, but the main crime is that it centers on a Valentine’s Day dance…and then we get a Prom episode a little later. That was too repetitive to me. To have two dance episodes in the final season just seemed to point to lazy writing. The Prom needed to be the only one where a dance was involved because a lot of students look at Prom as an ‘end of an era’ like event. I know that some don’t but when you think about what Prom usually represents in movies and television for characters, it is THE rite of passage for young adults to move out of high school and into college and adult hood. Episode 3 should’ve been scrapped entirely and something else should have replaced it. I mean they came up with a college campus visit episode, you are meaning to tell me they couldn’t have thought up of something else other than a 2ND dance? Also, has any other high school in the world gotten in this much shit in such little time?

And even though there is a revelation in one of the final episodes why that fourth episode went down the way it did, the tone was just so off base for the series that the revelation did nothing to make me forgive that episode. Gary Sinese, aka Lieutenant Dan, shows up in this as Clay’s therapist, but with how little he is in it, it seems like he was an afterthought. Like they shot all of Clay’s scenes with an unknown, and at the last minute they got someone recognizable and re filmed all those scenes. Because if you look closely, he really is only in scenes with just Clay or his parents. I know that makes sense considering therapists not being too directly involved in kids lives but, the scenes just felt inserted. Fortunately, Gary Sinese does a good job where the awkward timing of the session are forgivable. I liked that his character had standards and rules and stuck with them and that they didn’t get his character too involved, it would’ve been…too movie-ish. If you know what I mean. Also, for non fans of Ani, who was an entirely new character in season 3, did some stupid shit and people didn’t like that she took over from Clay as narrator, she’s not in this season much. So you know that the creators definitely listened to fan input. She’s in it just enough though to have her and Clay complete their own little relationship arc, but when she’s sent to her mom’s mid way through the season and doesn’t come back till near the end, you know that she was sent away for the toxic fans of the show, and that shouldn’t have happened. Me? I thought Ani was fine, and the actress who played her did a good job in the role. I had no qualms with her and I’m disappointed that the show runners would listen to dumb feedback such as that.

Thankfully though, in episode 5, the series does a giant course correction and gives us two stronger episodes, Episode 6 maybe even being one of their strongest of the whole series. I’ll give you a hint what it is about: it deals with a possible active shooter on campus. It is also the only episode of the series so far where Clay talking to dead people is emotional and makes a bit of sense. And then after that, it stays consistently good, all the way thru the Prom and grand finale, which is basically graduation. And its consistently good, other than the tiny hiccup with the revelation of who ends up being in the coffin. It’s only because the matter of the death. If this character had died some other way, the whole finale, which the run time is a little too long in general, would’ve been 100% solid. If you want to discuss with me why or why not THAT fate bothered you and why it bothered me, message me up, I’m more than happy to describe why I didn’t think it made any sense. But other than that, it had a solid ending, and a solid very last scene. I’ve decided, I am going to barely recommend watching this last season, if only because I think I really enjoyed this series as a whole, especially the 1st. It might’ve been realistic at first and then gone off track with murder mysteries, characters losing their minds and talking to dead people, but it has remained consistently entertaining. Like watching a dumpster fire filled with teen angst. The acting has always been 100% solid too, no bumps in the road. But because of my frustration with some of the episodes, I can say with 100% certainty say that this was the worst season of the show. Should they just have ended it with season three and had wrapped up all the lose ends? Yes, that absolutely would’ve been the better choice, but I see their reasoning of wanting to end it when they all graduated high school. Definitely the perfect storytelling ending fork in the road for a lot of movies and television series. If you were to ask me, I would’ve said that it should’ve just been a one season kind of thing, loose threads be damned. Maybe they should’ve spent a little more time fine tuning this final season? Completely scrap the 1st, 3rd and 4th episodes and do some major rewrites? Doing some research I saw that this was the shortest amount of time of a wait between seasons (less than a year, the others were more). But then again, if they had taken more time they might not have finished filming because of the asshole that is COVID-19. Lose-lose situation I’m afraid. What will I remember most about this series? Probably that it was one of (if not only) high school television series about teen angst with real issues that I actually gave a damn about. Fuck you, Degrassi.

My Final Ranking Of The 13 Reasons Why Series:

  1. Season 1
  2. Season 3
  3. Season 2
  4. Season 4

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS Season 1 (HBO MAX)

This will be a really quick two paragraph review of LOONEY TUNES CARTOONS Season 1 that just premiered along with the streaming service HBO Max. Because what is there to really say about Looney Tunes? This is your Dad’s Looney Tunes, not some revamp that might as well take the word Looney right out of it. Now this isn’t the entire old Looney Tunes library that you remember watching when we are kids, but NEW ORIGINAL cartoons featuring your favorite characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Coyote & Road Runner etc. There are 10 episodes but they are only 10 to 12 minutes each (and split into 2-3 shorts that don’t over stay their welcome, you know, like the old days). It’s basically one big 2 hour movie full of shorts. And it’s great! Not only does my young almost 3 year old son Grayson pay attention to it, but he laughs right along with all the hijinks. Not only that, but I find myself laughing along too while thinking, “they didn’t change a thing, and that’s the best thing about it.” HBO Max and whoever wrote and animated for this new original series could’ve went the opposite wrong way for sure. And in this day and age, it’s shocking they didn’t.

In this you will see absolutely no jokes that try to modernize the cartoon. They don’t even utter any terms such as yolo, millenial, or even say the dreaded hashtag in front of other words. It’s literally new of more of the same from way back when. All the violence where all the cartoon characters are okay, but would literally die in real life, is all here in all its glory…along with your favorite dynamite sticks! All the characters still sound the same, you still get Daffy vs. Elmer Fudd, Daffy and Porky Pig messy mix ups, Bugs Bunny gaining the upper hand on every single obnoxious villain he comes across, and the damn Coyote still can’t catch the Road Runner. Giant rocks fall on characters, countless explosions, slapstick humor, all in tact. Nothing changed. I’m surprised that helicopter moms weren’t screaming from the rooftops from the beginning to make this project more accessible to younger viewers. It is all a hard TV-PG for sure. The only thing disappointing about it, is that it is only 2 hours of content right now. But seeing as this, and then that child like Elmo late show are the only things people are watching on the new streaming service right now, and that animation shows aren’t being affected so much by COVID-19, I think we can expect a season 2 sooner rather than later. Back in the day, this was a zany Saturday morning cartoon that the whole family could enjoy. It still is, just now with no commercials. Finally, something that feels fresh by still remaining the same. How looney is that?

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: SPACE FORCE SEASON 1 (Netflix)

Man…did SPACE FORCE pick the wrong weekend to debut or what, am I right? Not it’s fault though, but suffice to say that when viewing numbers for this weekend come out, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix, Greg Daniels, Steve Carrell and co. are disappointed with the ultimate results. Hope you all are staying safe out there and if you are protesting that you are doing it peacefully. Speaking of peacefully, I thought the show was going to have a lot more digs toward the government or those in charge of power, but everything was surprisingly tame and not controversial whatsoever. Which to be honest, was a little disappointing. Most if not all of the humor was tamer than some of the now tone deaf laughs that The Office gave us way back then. That being said, I still enjoyed Space Force for what it was and have to disagree with a lot of the critics that hated it. It is a different work place comedy from the creators of the ultimate work place comedy that people (including me) still binge watch constantly over and over again on Netflix (until it leaves that platform later this year, that’s when I’ll bring out the DVD’s!). While the show didn’t provide nearly as much laughs as I would’ve liked, the whole story was entertaining to me, and at least the first season was much, much better than the first season of The Office or Parks and Recreation. Remember how horrible those were but then those shows found their footing? Well if this show is already 10 times better than the 1st season of those shows, and it manages to find their footing in the next season or two, we could be in for something truly special. It remains to be seen, but I’m willing to give it a couple of more season chance. Right now it is passable okay bordering on good. And that ain’t bad.

Per Wikipedia, “Space Force┬áis a workplace comedy series that centers on a group of people tasked with establishing the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces. Carell’s character, Mark Naird, is the general in charge of the effort and the series follows his collaboration to get “boots on the moon” per the orders of the President.” To add to that description, needless to say, almost all the people in this special sixth branch (excluding only a few) are a few thousand gallons of fuel short of a successful launch. Thankfully, Steve Carell is definitely not just playing Michael Scott with a rough military scowl, but an entirely new buffoon altogether, one that you could definitely say has more smarts than Michael Scott with the same amount of heart. Really none of the acting is a problem here, everybody plays a colorful and interesting character, but if I had to pick an MVP of the series, it unfortunately would not be Mr. Carrell, it would easily be John Malkovich. I haven’t enjoyed John Malkovich this much since his days playing an over the top character in movies like Rounders or Con Air. Here, he plays it straight, but he plays it so straight that its absolutely fucking hilarious. He is one of the few exceptions to all the dummies he’s surrounded by in the new special military branch (the African American pilot played by Newsome is a close second in terms of smarts and laughs). And when he disagrees with anybody’s thoughts on the next step to a problem they are having to solve, his facial expressions, demeanor and dialogue are pure comedy gold. If there is any reason to give this entire season a watch it is for him and him alone. Fortunately, he isn’t an ‘AND’ character and is second billed in the series, so he almost has as much screen time as Carrell. If the series ever didn’t bring back Malkovich, I would probably stop watching immediately.

The series is entertaining on a story level, especially the B plot that turns into the A plot at the end of the American Space Force vs. The Chinese Space Force. It is just that all the laughs are more chuckle worthy than laugh out loud antics (all the laugh out loud stuff is mainly just Malkovich). I’d say the jokes are hit and miss, about a perfect 50-50 ratio. If I had to pick my favorite episode out of the ten it would easily be the 2nd episode, which deals with a monkey and dog in space. That is the one episode that had me shaking the whole house with my laugh and didn’t just elicit light chuckles that wouldn’t shake anything but my tongue. The problem with the humor and jokes is that they didn’t take it as far as they needed to. They needed more controversial umph. Maybe they were afraid of retaliation of our current president that they didn’t want the attention? If so, that is disappointing, there was plenty of opportunity to make fun of the politics of it all and also make people laugh their asses off with some smart jokes. Instead, everything is played a little too safe. Maybe the showrunners will receive that feedback and not pull their punches in future seasons. If so, and they land those with brass knuckles right on the political satire cheek, this series will go places. Right now, it was good and not pretty good. I think the critics were a little too hard on it to be sure, but they do have a point. When you are the creator of two shows (Greg Daniels) whose first seasons were downright terrible but somehow overcame cancellation and ended up winning a bunch of Emmy’s with smart future seasons, wouldn’t you think the third time workplace comedy would be the charm? Apparently not. But this season was better than the first season of Parks and Rec and The Office, the last two seasons of The Office and the last season of Parks and Rec. And to me, that’s something to go a little over the moon about.