Spider-Man: Far From Home (w/spoilers)

July 12, 2019

Let me begin by saying what I expect from films in the superhero genre:

They should be fun.

By that I mean that I don’t expect them to be especially smart or even logical, I don’t expect them to contain a meaningful part of the characters’ journeys (although it would be really nice if they did), and I don’t expect them to be overtly political. I do expect them to have heart, humor, some sense of right and wrong and the occasional well-directed action scene and to be able to tie all that together somehow.

Spider-man: FFH does have some drama and humor and definitely deals with right and wrong, and its’ action scenes are superb. It also goes beyond that and has some of the more interesting politics of the marvel films, but I’ll get to that later. But – and it’s a big but – it’s a film where everything’s constantly out of place and everyone’s out of character, sometimes deliberately so – that is, it doesn’t manage, and possibly even doesn’t try, to tie everything together. So you could see why I would be conflicted about it.

Up to its post-credits scenes, the film’s constantly-shifting scenery, lack of adult authority figures, and themes of illusion and lies are all impressive. Unfortunately, the film lacks any kind of grounding to contrast them. Consider Fury: the ending explains his bizarre decisions and behavior by pointing out he was a Skrull all along, but what the viewer is left with is an entire film where the character was behaving unexpectedly. Mysterio, on the other hand, is behaving in a very expected manner for everyone who has read the comics and for some viewers who haven’t. Peter’s trust of him and their connection is not relate-able despite Holland and Gyllenhall’s best efforts.

Spider-man can be a tricky character to get right. Having him as a teenager is a good fit because the best version of Spidey is not entirely “baked”. He’s a character that makes mistakes and learns from them. But there’s a clear line between mistakes that are relateable – such as having a drone almost kill Brad (and even that’s a stretch) – to the catastrophic mistake of giving Edith to Mysetrio (I actually wrote about another such “mistake” in the comics nine years ago). The MJ-Peter romance has some nice moments, but on the whole it’s about Peter pining for her and both of them keeping secrets from each other. Ned and Betty’s connection seems as though it’s played for laughs at first but in a sense it’s actually the most developed romantic subplot of the film.

The film does occasionally state that everything’s wrong – the students comment on the bizzare consequences of the blip and on the ridiculousness of the constantly-changing field trip – but having the viewer too aware of manipulation sort of prevents the viewer from experiencing that manipulation.

As for the film’s politics, while the lack of authority figures and feeling of manipulation don’t work as part of the narrative, the way the film promotes those is perhaps the most political the MCU got except for Black Panther. If Endgame’s Thanos was still a very real threat the heroes could beat (by going to extreme measures), there was still a very clear threat to beat, and there were clearly the heroes to do so. Far From Home shows an MCU in which the threat isn’t clear, the truth is malleable, and there are no heroes to protect people from emerging villains or technology left behind by the heroes. As Peter says in the post credits scene in response to being ousted by Jameson and framed for murder, “WTF”.

All of this leads me to make a prediction as to the direction of the next Spider Man film and Phase four. While I’m not familiar enough with the cosmic universe to predict where that part of the MCU would go, on Earth, Marvel is clearly headed towards a path similar to the comics’ Dark Reign, where Norman Osborn became head of a SHIELD-like agency and started hunting down superheros. This also sits well with the Spidey films motif of having the villains use Stark technology – the next film may involve a takeover of Stark Industries and may see its return to being a weapons manufacturer that works with some shady characters. As to who will be the face of that change, it’s been made clear from interviews that Marvel wants to avoid Osborn, although bringing back JK simmons as JJJ might be a precedent in that sense. A more reasonable option would be to bring back Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer or even Michael Keaton as who-remembers-he-was-the-vulture. Having each of those characters as head of Stark Industries would have both effects of making a weird sort of sense while being a WTF twist.

To give you a measure of how (in)accurate my prediction might be, I did predict that Marvel would be going towards a Secret Invasion storyline, and that did not happen (which I’m actually very happy about, but that’s for another time), but my prediction that there are Skrulls in the MCU actually turned out to be correct, so who knows.

Avengers: Endgame (Spoliers ahead)

June 9, 2019

Well, That’s that, isn’t it?
With the MCU ending its major character arcs and its biggest story arc, there’s little question that it pulled off telling stories over a span of more than a decade, with months and sometimes year-long breaks in-between. As for whether it concluded them in a way that’s satisfying, well, that’s another matter.
In interviews, the Russo brothers talk about how this film is really about the core team established in the first movie. While that may be true, there’s also a bit of a cheat involved: the five year gap finds the characters in a different place then they were before it, both emotionally and physically. Captain America has given up on loftier goals to mentor a support group. Tony Stark became a family men, Bruce became Smart Hulk, Hawkeye became Ronin, and Natasha took over the Avengers. While all of these events have their roots in the earlier films, The gap creates a sort of a detachment. Would Tony choose to remain at home or join the time heist? The movie does give him time to ponder this, but it still feels like this question has parameters the viewer isn’t aware of.

Once Cap learns of the option to change reality, he reverts to his old optimist self. Again, the movie acknowledges that his optimism isn’t necessarily justified (and in a sense, I think that’s when I felt the most sympathy for him in all of the films), but it’s still too fast of a switch. Natasha’s speech about the burden of her debt connects with similar points from the previous films and enough to explain her sacrifice later, but not to make it as tragic as it could have been. As for Thor, well, in a sense they were already done with Thor’s arc by now, so they’ve made him an entirely different character. Which isn’t a bad idea in itself, it just doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the film. Hawkeye’s still redundant, but Whedon was able to at least partially compensate for that, which I don’t think this film does. Edit: I neglected to refer to Hulk, and he was probably the worst treated character of the core team: his quest for inner peace basically ended off-screen.

As for the story arc – Endgame’s Thanos is not Infinity’s Thanos. As his history gets deleted, what we get is essentially a new villain with different goals and a different attitude. That’s not a continuation of the story, as much as it is a re-imagination of it.

This is my main gripe with the film. I could do without some of the Back to the Future references, but other than that I’m happy with the rest of it. I think the time travel scenes worked wonderfully, especially for Tony and Cap, and were part touching and part hilarious. The scene with Peter dancing was awesome, and somehow I was the only one laughing in the theater. And despite feeling cheated out of a story that could’ve better established them, Tony sacrificing himself and Steve ending up with Peggy are very fitting ends to their arcs.

Two final notes:
It’s interesting to note that Wanda says to Clint “They Both know”, referring to Natasha and someone else. It was very clear for me that she meant Pietro while watching, but after hearing some other people I think Vision and Tony are also possible answers. One video mentioned Gamora as a possibility, which I think would work if Wanda was already beginning to lose her grip of reality, but she’s just not there yet.

Oh, and my alternative theory as to why Steve chose to be the one to return the stones:
– Welcome, Steve, son of Sarah.
– I was told you’d be here. I come to return the stone.
– As I’m sure you know, it was not taken without a cost. Nor can it be returned without one. You must lose that which you love. But you came alone, and there is no sacrifice to be made.
– Well, actually, Johann, I think it’s time we talk about us.

Star Wars: Episode VII theory and other observations (spoilers!)

January 17, 2016

I’m starting to think I’m writing those in order to show them to people in a few years in case I’m right, although both in this case and the Ant-Man theory the chances are actually pretty slim. At the end of this post, some more casual observations. Both are taken from my comments in Hebrew in several sites.

So, one of the things that bothered me the most in the film was the return of Poe. Other than the clumsily-explained plot hole, it’s also a disservice to the character. Before-the-crash Poe is interesting, After-the-crash Poe – less so. But what if it’s not the same character?

We know that clones still exist in the Star Wars universe. Making Poe a clone while Finn – as we know – is not one, sounds like a very Abrams-esque twist. There are a couple of problems with this kind of idea, one of them being the fact that poe recognizes Finn – by name, when he returns.

So, to close this plot hole, Poe #2 would need to know everything that Poe #1 knew about Finn, such as the name he gave him before “dying”. That presents a problem, unless, of course, Poe was directed to give finn that name. By Kylo Ren.

I suspect Ren manipulated Finn to betray the First Order, and rescue Poe #1 -who is also operated by Ren. There are a couple of things about Ren that strangely fit this theory. First of all, as far as I recall, Ren knows Finn’s number without it being told to him directly (at least on-screen). Second of all, Ren teases General Hux regarding the quality of his soldiers and mentions that a clone army would be better. This may be a a misdirection meant to distance himself from suspicion regarding Finn, but also might be an indication of him operating clones. Finally, Poe #1’s first words to Ren – “Who talks first?” is funny when taken literally, but even funnier if Poe #1 is actually operated by Ren.

So what’s Ren’s interest in all of this? I’m not entirely sure. Theories regarding Ren trying to subvert the Dark Side and Snoke are already commonplace, based on Ren’s promise to finish what Vader started. This may also strengthened by a comment by Abrams regarding how Ren is NOT a sith apprentice. Another thing that makes me like the Ren-Poe-Finn theory is that it works as a homage to the original film, where Luke was the rebels’ best pilot, blowing up the Death Star while under the parental supervision of Vader – similarly to Poe #2. Finn, on the other hand, becomes Ren’s blindspot, when Ren’s influence and unnatural fear is cancelled by Rey’s influence – which also echos events from previous films.

That said, all of this requires assuming Ren is sort of a master manipulator, and that his rage episodes are an act, which I’m not sure isn’t a disservice to HIS character. Another flaw in this theory is that BB-8 also recognizes Poe #2, and I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with the implications of that. (addendum – there could also be a Poe #1.5, just before Poe and Finn escape, but that may be pushing it).

Some notes from the second viewing of the film follow:

1.My favorite touch that I didn’t notice the first time around was Rey’s reaction when approaching Finn when he’s on the ground in Jakku following the airstrike, and he asks her if she’s OK. Her puzzled response could be taken as part of her general bad-assery and independence. But in the same time, I think she’s also surprised by THE VERY QUESTION, which may not have been presented to her before. And this may be a key moment in bringing those two characters together.

2. I’ve seen the theory regarding Rey being a Kenobi. While interesting, I must admit I don’t care that much about whether it’s true. What becomes clear upon second viewing is that Rey’s adoptive father was Unkar Platt, as seen in her visions. This is also evident in her knowledge regarding the ownership of the Falcon, and serves as an excuse to all that technobabble when she bypasses Platt’s tinkering in order to impress Han, making it a symbolic transference of a father figure – which is how Ren described the way she perceives Han. This all feels like pieces of a rich backstory, which for me is much more interesting than her biological ancestry.

3. There’s some discussion regarding Finn’s douchiness as he shoots his former friends minutes after his moral crisis. What’s less discussed is Finn breaking his promise to BB-8 to take him back home. I also think that the part where he enlists BB-8’s help to charm Rey is sort of a high-schoolish scene that doesn’t sit well with the rest of the film, even though it’s funny.

4. Finn shouldn’t be surprised by Solo admitting that the Force exists – Finn has seen it in action. In fact Solo himself is a far less tangible legend to him than the force.

5. The hologram table is clearly seen, but notice the orb that Finn finds when he bandages Chewie – it’s the same one Luke trained with.

6. Moz is a bit of an ET, especially when she reaches out her hand.

7. Abrams really likes the mystery of things inside boxes, so no wonder that Luke’s lightsaber is inside one.

8. It has been revealed that Finn’s number’ 2187, is a reference to the original film, but near the end of the film the number sequence 28-336 is heard twice in different contexts, So this may also be a reference to something.

9. I don’t get what they were trying to do with Han’s jackets. Was that an Indiana Jones reference? as Han tells Leia, his current Jacket isn’t the original cowboy-one, but rather a leather jacket that looks more like Jones’s. When arriving at the First Order base, another jacket is seen falling, and Chewie later returns it to Han when leaving.

10. Regarding the end, I must admit that on first view when Rey leaves to find Luke something in me was screaming “Cut here, Abrams!”, and the continuation seemed a bit too much in my taste. I still think Luke is a bad McGuffin and this film could’ve done without him, but on second view I felt that at least as far as Rey’s character goes, the film earned this scene. It could be regarded as a pre-credits-post-credits scene.

11. I like people’s response when I tell them that BB-8 looks like the number 8.

And since you made it this far, some memes inspired by the film.

Ant-Man theory (spoilers for films and comics to date)

July 17, 2015

(originally posted as a Facebook comment in Hebrew here)

I’ve written here and elsewhere on how Agents of Shield might be preparing a Secret Invasion storyline.

While on the surface, Ant-Man seems like a light comedy, it may contain what is Marvel’s biggest move yet towards that storyline, and that is the character of Hank Pym.

In the comics, Hank Pym was revealed as one of the Skrulls that have infiltrated the superhero community (two Skrulls, in fact, but that’s another story). In the movie, there’s plenty to suspect about Pym’s behavior: We know that Pym was cut off, for a long time, from his company, his daughter, and possibly others. It therefore may be the case that while the 1989 Hank Pym was an idealist who wanted the Ant-man suit far away from government hands, he was replaced with a Skrull sometime between that time and present-day time in the film. His goal, or one of his goals, could be to have a man in the Ant-Man suit as part of the Avengers team, or maybe even the Wasp suit – a plot twist that is eerily similar to the one that led to Janet’s death in Secret Invasion). Pym may have even aided Cross behind the scenes in creating Yellowjacket to set those events in motion – without his knowledge, a manipulation not too different than the one used to recruit Scott Lang. This may also mean that both of Luis’ “anecdotes” in the film are a result of Pym’s manipulation.

A more modest theory could be that the replacement happens just before the scene in the credits, that is, the Ant-man suit may not be compromised, but the Wasp suit is.

Of course, considering the current story arc of the Marvel film we are still years away from a Secret Invasion storyline, but hey, this is something that was also built in the comics years ahead. Marvel apparently owns the rights for Skrulls only partially, but that doesn’t really prevent Marvel from integrating this kind of story into the mix.

Feel free to post your thoughts.

In other news, I have been covering Agents Of Shield in Hebrew for the Coffee Plus TV blog, and will also present a lecture on AoS and the Avengers in an upcoming convention. Some of the material may find its way here, eventually.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D 1×18 in 60 seconds (spoilers)

April 18, 2014

Coulson: “S.H.I.E.L.D lives! and I’m a badass.”

Talbot: “Not if my mustache has anything to say about that.”

Coulson: “Follow me, to the magic school bus! But only if we can bring Lola along. I’m a badass.”

May: “Give me your weapon, you psycho. I’m only doing what Fury told me to, you’re doing what you think Fury’s telling you to do. We don’t have the budget for another cameo anyway. And while on that, here’s a somewhat forced twist which will allow us to phase him out of this specific plot line.”

Coulson: “This thing can fly without you, and I don’t trust you anymore anyway. Why are you here again? I’m a bad-ass.”

Garret: “Muahahaha!”

Ward: “Muahahaha!”

Raina: “But you’re a deeper character than that.”

Ward: “There’s some potential for that. But for now: Muahahaha!”

(HYDRA takes over the fridge. Where are Spielberg and Lucas when you really need them to nuke something).

Fitz: “Jemma, I want things to stay the same between u-”

Simmons: “You’re cute, but, um, Triplet.”

Coulson-with-a-cold: “Why did I drag all of you here? And why is it always less than 40 minutes before I get un-badassed?”

The Team and Koenig: “Badges, Badges, Badges, Badges, Lanyard, Lanyard!”

Quinn: “I can’t believe I’m the surprising continuity twist in the final scene!”

Garret: “Think again. Muahahahaha!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rearranged from my comments in Hebrew here.

The episode itself wasn’t bad. A little too much dialogue, but also a reasonable amount of plot lines paying off.

I’ve mentioned before how Coulson’s uncertainty bugs me,  but this goes beyond a simple inconsistency and into the territory of an un-relatable lead. Sure, Angel had his fragile moments and Mal was sometimes a comic relief, but with Coulson it’s done way to often to be effective.

Thoughts on AOS 1×17 (spoilers for Captain America 2 as well)

April 18, 2014

Rearranged from my comments in Hebrew here. Without a doubt the show’s best episode so far, mainly because of the pace and the plot twists rather than due to the movie crossover event or the previous episodes. Some of those twists could have been spread across earlier episodes – such as the fact that the team was assembled as a support structure for Coulson. This could be revealed without exposing May, and it is a much more potent plot element than the Tahiti-related anti climaxes.

In many ways the show and the film are in separate universes – for instance, no mention was made in the film of the S.H.I.E.L.D levels, an element effectively used by the episode to demonstrate exactly how deep was HYDRA’s takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. It is true that much of the fun in the movie came from being part of the Marvel universe, but specifically the link to the show isn’t very apparent. This could’ve been true for the show – they could’ve just as easily not create a link between the clairvoyant and HYDRA. Once they did, however, It was interesting to see how HYDRA’s takeover would affect the show, and the effect was well executed – maybe even better than how it was done in the film. I mean, the only non-new character in the film that was revealed to be a traitor was Sitwell. SITWELL.

It seems to be the canon that Sitwell got hit by a truck in the film, although I only saw him being thrown out of the car. Maybe it was the crappy 3D.

Regarding the final scene of the episode, I think it was meant to be a reflection of sorts of the second post credits scene in Captain America 2, where Bucky sees his old self in the museum. Both are very similar moments for similar characters. Plot wise, the scenes are redundant, but while I don’t really care for Bucky, Ward’s scene had quite the emotional pay-off.

A short thought about Thor 2 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Spoilers)

November 8, 2013

Thor 2 was OK. I actually thought it wasn’t as good as the first film – a lot of redundant scenes, specifically those centred on the villains, and a general lack of focus. I did enjoy several fun references to the comics (such as Thor decapitating Bor) , and there were probably many more I missed. What bugged me was the ending. I don’t mean the climax, which was a funny physics-schmysics eye-candy, but rather Loki’s reappearance and the post-credits scene.

I don’t have anything against Loki specifically, but I do think the Marvel films would be better off treating death as final, at least for a while. It is also somewhat ironic considering how several conversations in the film go into length regarding morality. This is also true for agent Coulson in S.H.I.E.L.D. Although Coulson’s death and revival is clearly a metaphor for a middle-age crisis, it still manages to undermine the sense of peril. In addition, Coulson’s new-found uncertainty is also ironic considering his statement in Avengers regarding Loki’s lack of conviction.

As for the post-credits scene, using the post-credits scene only to set up macguffins is just wrong. The post-“Captain America” scene wasn’t only about setting up the tesseract – it set up the return of Loki, which was appropriate in that context.

Agents of Shield 1×01 (with spoilers and theories)

September 27, 2013

Rearranged from my comments in Hebrew here. Spoilers for the Avengers film and the New Avengers/Secret war comics, along with some theories for what may come next in SHIELD.

I watched the episode with a non-geek, among other reasons to avoid the Pause button. This turned out to be smart: although there were a couple of references, the episode was clearly trying to establish an identity that’s independent from the its comics/movie origins. At the same time, it refers to the plot of Avengers as backstory, which is sort of a ballsy move, as the pilot doesn’t have any sort of cataclysmic event and doesn’t bother to present a prominent threat. The episode itself was light with a reasonable amount of (mostly static) action scenes. The characters themselves were likeable with backstories that raise some questions and suspicions.  It is by far lighter than Dollhouse – at least for the time being.  Non-geek said it felt like a feel-good show, and had I not watched other Joss shows, that assessment would seem logical. The only part where some gloom was felt was Mike’s speech (a somewhat heavy-handed delivery IMHO), which to me seemed to deal with the effect of larger-than-life-celebrities (and as a result, the creation of self-destructive instant-celebrity culture).

Having watched other Whedon shows, it is not far-fetched to assume that the feel-good feeling is temporary. An authority like SHIELD is clearly something Joss would find a way to criticize. This can be seen in Avengers, which placed the blame for the situation on the shoulders of Nick Fury. In Avengers, Fury decided to weaponize the Tesseract following what he perceived to be a non-proportional threat – in a sense, this is similar to Bendis’ Secret War. Also note that this suggest initiative by SHIELD rather than a proportional response, which also seems to be the case with the task force in the show.

Something else to notice is some very bizzare decision making in SHIELD. Skye’s recruitment mirrors what we saw in the ending of Item 47, in that in both cases an agency recruits people with very little experience and without too many reasons to trust them. Specifically Skye’s assistance  in finding Mike seems redundant at times – If they’re the super-spies they’re supposed to be, shouldn’t they easily find out Mike’s identity after the attack in the factory? Along with the knowledge that Coulson is not exactly Coulson, I’m expecting a twist here. Two ideas for what it might be:

1) The task force is not what we think it is. Think SD6 from Alias. If Coulson isn’t Coulson, is SHIELD SHIELD?

2) What would seem to be interpreted as successes would later turn out to be the basis for catastrophic events. This is similar to what Bendis did in New Avengers up to Secret Invasion, where what seemed to be victories or good ideas were manipulated from within by the Skrulls. Specifically Melinda May’s recruitment calls to mind Spider-woman’s recruitment from New Avengers, and she later turned out to be Veranke, the Skrull Queen. Notice that I’m not necessarily saying Skrulls will be a part of the show. That was a popular claim before the Avengers film, mostly because it’s a popular contemporary storyline. What I am saying is that the structure of that story fits with what we know about the show and Whedon so far. But this is also a claim that’s a bit early to make.

Amazing Spider-man #624 (spoilers)

March 12, 2010

This blog has awakened from its slumber to point out a really bad issue of ASM. I’ve been following ASM since the Straczynski run, and there were some stinkers along the way, but this is the worst one in recent memory. And here’s why.

The gimmick: Peter Parker loses his job due to forging an image with Photoshop. Yeah. I didn’t make it up. This just screams “we wanted to make headlines”. First and foremost, because it is out of character for Parker. Recent years had some pretty weird developments, like Gwen Stacy having Norman Osborn’s children, or Peter Parker and MJ getting magically unmarried, but this is different because it seems as though they made Peter a douchebag to make headlines. As a vigilante, Peter is no  moral saint, but here it seems as though Peter is not even aware of the immorality of his actions, and feels no remorse (which is one of Peter’s basic traits). Even in the context of the forging act saving Jameson’s reputation, this doesn’t quite sit with the character.

Another thing that makes this gimmick loathsome is that it seems they did it to make Peter/ASM “hip”. Asides from Photoshop forgery being the very opposite of hip, this just screams “Peter is really as young as you are and faces the same problems you do”. The current run, as opposed to the JMS run, has featured a younger Peter (which is where unmarrying Peter and MJ came into the picture). But when it’s forced down our mouths, Peter just seems like the creepy old dude who thinks he’s 10 years younger.

The arc: Well, supposedly this is part of an arc where Peter meets old enemies as part of some scheme by the Kravens to get revenge. The problem is this has gone on for so long that the term “arc” for this story has become somewhat loose. Sure, Electro broke out the Vulture last issue, but this last  issue didn’t even refer to the arc. Part of the idea behind the current ASM run is that some plot threads are left to dangle while others are dealt with. But since the story was so bad, it makes it look like the interesting plot threads were hung out to dry rather than left to dangle, such as evil aunt may. Even worse, the current story doesn’t make a reference to some details from the other plots even when it should (Such as JJJ’s dad being Parker’s step dad).

The writing: This issue reads like the Stan Lee stuff, and not in the good “Stan Lee knew characterization” way, but in the “it reads like it was written in the 60s” way. Spidey’s commentary in the spidey-vulture fight is way more over the top than necessary, and if there’s a giggle to be had from Peter doing Photoshop forgery and running out of web fluids in the same issue, I missed it. But other than that, something just doesn’t work. Even Jameson, who is the most complex character of this issue, somehow doesn’t manage to be interesting.

And then I looked at the credits and was stunned. This was written by Mark Waid. The same Mark Waid who writes Irredeemable, one of the best comic books currently out there. Obviously with Irredeemable he has more freedom as he created that book, but his last ASM issue is simply embarrassing.

I’m sticking around with ASM for some of the other rotating writers (specifically Dan Slott), but for me this run has sort of jumped the shark.

How I met your Mother 5×14 (Spoilers)

February 12, 2010

I was thinking of reviewing 5×12 (the one with the mother’s sister that ends with the Barney musical segment), but 5×14 has the same basic flaw: It’s really about Barney.

I’m not saying the occasional episode where Barney gets the A-plot is a bad thing, but the character could certainly use less screen time. This episode had Old Ted telling a story about Barney telling a story to a fictional character, which just didn’t work – by the time the show pointed to Barney’s low reliability as a storyteller, it was too little and too late.

If that sounds irrelevant to a show like HIMYM, it isn’t. Despite it’s frequent trips into the realm of imagination, it’s the show’s rather strong grounding and romantic tendencies that allow those trips. It’s true that Neil Patrick Harris is probably more talented than the other folks, but without Ted there can be no Barney. I recently watched the episode where Ted meets Victoria, and it almost seems as though the show has lost something since – The laughs are still there, but the show doesn’t bother to earn them anymore. In other words, the show’s beginning to look like the standard American sitcom.

Also, it didn’t help that each of the plots had one joke that was repeated over and over.

The Alias award for teaser length: The teaser hits at 5:54, which is after 1/4 of the show. By this time, all four jokes are set up.

The Futurama “Scruffy” award for recurring character: Wendy the waitress reappears. For those of you not following the show’s web presence, Wendy the waitress is the mother.