Horseman Episode 08 Review
Bojack Horseman and his really shitty life.
Why I watched it:
It ain't gonna watch itself.
How it works:
The second part of the duology started by episode 07, no longer about Princess Caroline and her day-to-day priorities, but about Bojack and how the choices he made in the far, far past affects him now. It's an episode about a very important choice brought on by a very important phone call, and about how Bojack has to live with it as another man dies.
The Gang goes to Malibu, as was stated in the last episode, and we get to see it this time. Malibu isn't made to be a shit town like Boston was - indeed, The Gang goes there, talks to a man, and then leaves. The distance, perhaps some symbolic distance between him and the dying man (let's not get pedantic though), provides opportunity for Bojack to talk about his past, as we are wont to do about this show about people living in the past as we deal with the now.
Bojack was a fucking nobody in the 80s. Absolute garbage material. Then his good friend Herb comes along and gets him a show, and suddenly he's not so garbage. Hooray! Then it turns out Herb's gay, and Bojack sells him out for the sake of his show. Then Bojack's life turns to shit and Herb ends up looking pretty good in comparison. Then it turns out Herb has cancer and Bojack has to apologise. Boo!
Anyway, Bojack does that, feels shitty, Herb doesn't accept, Herb fucking dies (probably), and feels shitty while cucking Mr. Peanut Butter by kissing Diane. Too bad she doesn't like it. Looks like it's going to be a long drive home, eh Bojack?
What I felt:
Sorry if I sound like a twat on babby's first blog, though this is what the show is driving at, and is the mythical "reason for being" that it so rightly deserves. It's a damn fucking shame that it's occurring in the last 30% of the season, where it's just starting to feel like the start of a new and interesting television series, only there's about two-thirds less the time to express yourself with.
The disconnect between when the show begins and when it actually "starts", much like the disconnect between the first hours of a video game and when it starts getting really good - like Deus Ex immediately after the jail cell mission, where your skills are finally being put to the test after everything you learned, or Bioshock after you start getting weapon and plasmid upgrades and have to optimise them - can be off-putting to somebody who wants to watch a quality show, and yet have to wade through a few hours of mediocrity before things open up.
It's especially annoying for the viewer because the first five episodes of Bojack Horseman aren't really bad - they're just unremarkable. The worst you can say about them is that, in a world where you have shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, South Park, Panty and Stocking, and American Dad, they seem redundant when other shows have done the whole "asshole main characters get shit on by other assholes including themselves" thing far, far better, and with far more originality. They're still entertaining, but they don't have any lasting impact on the viewer like these past three episodes have for me.
They aren't horrible... except that they still give vital information about the characters, the setting, the history of the plot, and a shit-ton of foreshadowing to make these episodes necessary to watch. It's a bit like watching the Eternal Eight episodes from Haruhi. Yeah, you can pussy out and only watch the first and last episodes of the arc, but that's like skipping the dialogue in a visual novel to get to the sex scenes. It is far, far more satisfying to go through all the filler and understand the full depth of the universe in order to get an emotional reaction from the scenes which are supposed to be emotional.
This isn't to say that filler should be excused, or that bad episodes should be excused because they are considered a necessity. If something is boring, then call it boring. It doesn't suddenly stop becoming boring just because some other episodes make it seem better in comparison, because of course water tastes better after you've been in the desert for two days. I'm saying that it might be worthwhile to still watch the mediocre episodes of a series if it brings you a better overall enjoyment of it, even though the bad episodes being better would make for an even better series than it would be otherwise.
So I hope that Bojack Horseman continues this upward trend of good storytelling and dialogues that advance the characters, because I was already proven wrong by suggesting that this show should be a simple situational comedy, and I don't want to be proven wrong again by praising these past three episodes so much. Then again, call a good episode a good episode. No need to hold back praise because of the poor quality of the initial showing.
I guess I should actually talk about the actual episode, then, instead of the meta-elements that surround it (though there will always be meta-elements in a review, as it is a review). But then again, what do I say about a show that relies so much on the viewer's knowledge of it in order to gather impact from it? What do you say about an episode that only matters if you understand the characterisation that has been developed since its inception, about the exploits and innate dickery in every character, and about what their overall motivations as humans are?
You make a damn fine approximation, that's what. Fuck trying to recapture the experience that you felt when reviewing the show - you probably won't achieve it, and trying to is a folly for fools, as if you were writing a work of fiction whereby you were expected to replicate emotions as opposed to recreating them in the minds of the audience. If you want to try to recapture the special "something", that special sauce which drives a series and gives it the adoration of its audience, you can try. You are likely be a cheap imitation.
So we create an approximation instead, talking about the approximation of what happened in order to help the audience understand why the critic feels a certain way. What did I feel? As if my time was being fucking rewarded. Why do I feel that way? Because having an episode that relies on our knowledge of the characters we got familiar with through a series of insubstantial episodes is an episode that only a long-time viewer can understand, and so to be pandered to like this is a positive feeling.
I feel like the bits of foreshadowing, obvious as they may be, were coming to something important and not just being wasted. The little details of the characters, such as Bojack's slowly inflating ego, or Diane's desire to help people out despite her deep-laden knowledge that she really deserves better than them, or the scenery in the title sequence changing as the events in the series goes on, all contribute to a whole that makes the viewer who bothers to really focus on the show and treat it like a "thinking man's" show, feel really good about themselves.
And the newfound ability for the writers to have events occur naturally, as opposed to them being forced in because of the mystical Powers that Be (such as the Buzzfeed writer or the phone call from Diane's dad), and to have the characters learn from the events that they create, shows that the writers understand that they weren't being the best storytellers that they could be, and fixed that issue in the latest episodes.
The acting, which comes naturally and without flaw for even the side characters (including the cutie-pie Charlotte, a deer which I'd like to snuggle if just for an hour), carry them. If it wasn't for the excellent voice acting of each and every individual, the effortless ability to say things as if they were happening and not part of some spaghetti production of an animated series, then the characters would have been dead on arrival.
And that's how I feel. That's my approximation of how I feel. I can't make you feel the same things I did, or even make you feel similar emotions, but I can help you understand why I felt them. So if you get some knowledge out of this review, the same knowledge that I got from writing it, then I am forever grateful that you have spent your time to listen to the eternal sunshine of the frog-filled mind.
What I learned:
It's easy to take the axe to something that is beyond salvage, though doing the same for a series that has some good parts in it and wants to improve and be a part of something greater, benefits nobody.
A positive feeling - Froghand.
Today's page was updated on September 11, 2016!
I don't want to fuck Charlotte either. Save the furbait for Animal Crossing.