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How I Met Your Mother: Season 8
How I Met Your Mother: Season 8
DVD ~ Josh Radnor
Price: $12.17
87 used & new from $6.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Death And Resurrection: A Season 8 Review, May 24, 2013
*** Review Will Contain Spoilers ***

There were some major bumps in the road, but How I Met Your Mother finally got there. After eight seasons, they finally lived up to their title. Well, technically, Ted hasn't met her yet, but we can finally put a face to this highly anticipated character. We can finally picture the couple that gave this show its premise. Of course, there's a lot to be said about the closing moments of Season 8, but I'll save that for last.

This was a difficult season to grade, because the peaks and valleys were so steep that you didn't know whether the writers had completely lost their minds or were completely genius. Let me put it this way: I look at Season 8 as two halves separated by the hour long mid-season finale. The first half was clumsy, ridiculous and unfunny. The second half was clever, creative, vintage How I Met Your Mother. In December I was writing my eulogy for the show I love so much. And then something strange happened... it got good again. Really good. And I'm fully aware that this isn't a unanimous opinion; I've read the comments, I've heard the criticism. But as a long-time fan of this show, I thought the last 14 episodes of Season 8 were excellent television.

Standout episodes:

- "Splitsville" (ep. 8.06)- Robin and Nick's breakup certainly lacks originality, but Nick is just so hilariously dumb that it makes for a charming episode.
- "The Final Page, Pt. 1" (ep. 8.11)- As a fan of the show 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', I was pleased to see Alyson Hannigan reunite with her old flame, Seth Green. The jinx storyline was genius; Neil Patrick Harris played it beautifully and it was hilarious.
- "The Final Page, Pt. 2" (ep. 8.12)- This was dramedy at its absolute finest. As touching as Barney's proposal was (and I won't get into details on that), I thought the most moving moment of this episode was the final shot of Ted gazing out over the city, clearly unhappy in spite of all he'd accomplished. If a single shot could be considered "powerful" in a comedy, that was it.
- "P.S. I Love You" (ep. 8.15)- Robin Sparkles goes the way of many of today's young ex-Disney stars. And boy, is it good! [Dave Coulier's appearance was a hilariously welcome surprise]
- "Bad Crazy" (ep. 8.16)- The Robin and Lily story is vintage HIMYM. I love when the same string of events is revisited time and time again in an episode to account for revelations that change what actually happened. The same goes for "The Ashtray" (ep. 8.17), which was one of my favorite episodes of the season and reintroduced one of the show's best recurring characters, the beloved Captain.
- "The Time Travelers" (ep. 8.20)- Very interesting episode and easily one of the best of the series, in my opinion. One of the things I love about How I Met Your Mother is its tireless attention to continuity, and this episode is a great example of the writers maintaining a believable timeline. 'Robots versus Wrestlers' could have easily been a silly, forgotten anecdote in the grand scheme, but it was brought back as a reminder to us that the group would go together every year. And who thought we'd ever see Coat Check Girl again? Very pleasant surprise, if you ask me. Then you had Josh Radnor's speech in the closing minutes, which was beautiful and heartfelt. Honestly, it was so good that for a moment I forgot it was scripted. Fantastic episode on every front.
- "The Bro Mitzvah" (ep. 8.22)- If you're a fan of 80's movies, you can't miss this episode. What an homage it paid to one of the great movies of that decade. And it was funny--- classic, HIMYM funny. Easily one of the highlight episodes of the season.
- "Something New" (ep. 8.24)- I know it didn't develop the way many people wanted it to, but I thought by far it was the best finale the show has produced since Season 4. In a way I think it justified the years of teasing this wedding, because it revealed more than just the mother. It revealed what was at stake for each of these characters in the days prior to the wedding. It put every single character's life at a cross roads at that point in time, and I think it was a perfect way to magnify the wedding we've been hearing so much about.

What dragged it down?
I was thrilled to have Victoria back on the show. Unfortunately, the writers decided to make her a shell of her former self, portraying her as demanding, pushy and illogical. Gone was the charm the character once possessed, and gone was the chemistry she and Ted once shared. Victoria was a major disappointment for me, and she was out the door before she could even make her presence felt. I also thought the ultimatum she gave Ted about Robin was a major cop out by the writers. They messed up big time with Victoria, plain and simple. The character deserved much better.

There are very few episodes in this series I would consider altogether bad. In my opinion, "The Stamp Tramp" (ep. 8.07) and "Twelve Horny Women" (ep. 8.08) were by far the two worst showings of the series. What makes matters even worse is that they were not meant to be filler episodes; they were important to Marshall's story. The courtroom scene in "Twelve Horny Women" was the most ridiculous and regrettable thing I have ever experienced in eight seasons of this show. It made a complete mockery of Brad (who I've always liked as a character) and ruined the story of Marshall's path to judgeship. Additionally, Barney's return to the strip club scene in "The Stamp Tramp" (following his break-up with stripper Quinn) was absurd, unbelievable and not funny in any way. If I had to rank the worst episodes of this show, these two would would top the list. If you asked me where How I Met Your Mother hit rock bottom, I would tell you to look no further.

"Weekend At Barney's" (ep. 8.18) inexplicably backtracked on Barney's supposed burning of 'The Playbook.' The proposal scene in "The Final Page, Pt. 2" was supposed to be the big turning point for the Barney Stinson character. Instead, the writers cheated us by implying that Barney and Robin's magical moment was not as genuine as it seemed. I've seen enough of the Barnacle's sexual escapades over the years. I wanted to see real personal growth, and rather than allow Barney to take that step, the show faked it. I was very disappointed in the deceitful path the writers took Barney on. I thought the character was really turning the corner.

Like I said, the first ten episodes were a complete mess. It was uncharacteristically not funny, unimaginative and for lack of a better word, pathetic.
I actually cannot recall an episode in the first half of the season that Lily wasn't crying about something. It could be funny once, maybe twice, and then it just gets stupid. Marshall's role was so lacking at times that he probably could have been reduced to a recurring character. Yes, he was there, but he added nothing at all to the story. While the mid-season finale explained Barney's bizarre behavior throughout the first half, it doesn't make watching it back any more enjoyable. Then there's Robin, who was turned from a strong, independent woman into a neurotic lunatic, playing right into Barney's diabolical plan week after week after week. And the stories? For lack of a better word, at times they just plain sucked. For example, "Who Wants To Be A Godparent" turned what's supposed to be a humbling honor into a ridiculous competition among a group of friends that forgot how old they were. I could go on, but this review is already going to be too long.

Now onto the big talking point, eight long years in the making--- the mother. And I think she's absolutely perfect.
I've been reading comments and reviews from fans that think she's not pretty enough, she should have been a brand name actress, she looks too much like Lily. Well, too damn bad. I'm sure we've all had it in our heads what we thought the mother should look like. I envisioned someone that was charming and cute, but not so attractive to the point where she'd be out of Ted's league. After all, Ted is the everyman. He's an average looking guy, has a cheesy sense of humor, has a normal job and has what might be considered a nerd's interests (Star Wars, crossword puzzles, poetry, etc.). This woman is a wonderful, natural fit for Professor Mosby.
One of the worst criticisms I've heard goes as follows: "I watched eight seasons for this?!" I'm sorry, but if you watched eight seasons of this show for the sole purpose of finding out who the mother was, I pity you. It's a sitcom. It's entertainment. It's supposed to be a half hour out of your life every week to shut your brain off and enjoy yourself. Don't act like you had to will yourself through 184 episodes just to be there for the big, dramatic reveal. People don't watch shows they don't like; it doesn't work like that. Sure, it may have taken awhile, but real fans have always had a way of enjoying the ride. So please, stop acting like you just wasted eight years of your life. You could have ended your suffering long ago by simply changing the channel.
Cristin Milioti was a brilliant choice, in my opinion. Obviously only time will tell as we gauge the level of likability and charisma she brings to the character, but going into the summer I could not be any happier with the casting.

In its entirety, the good outweighs the bad in Season 8. The continuous laugh-out-loud humor has all but come to a screeching halt; however the show still has more than enough clever writing and good execution to be considered a solid primetime comedy. Where the show has really thrived the last couple seasons is in its ascending emotional investment. There's more substance to the show than ever before. It gives fans a chance to really root for the characters as their paths take them to unfamiliar places. To put it simply, we care. And there's a lot to be said for a show that can evoke an emotional response from its viewers (let alone a comedy). How I Met Your Mother is not as good a show as it once was, not by a long shot. But after 8 seasons, it's still well worth watching.

Grade: B+

How I Met Your Mother: Season 7
How I Met Your Mother: Season 7
DVD ~ Josh Radnor
Price: $15.07
36 used & new from $8.28

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny Moments, But Too Much Going On, July 3, 2012
How I Met Your Mother is my favorite show on television right now, period. So it pains me to be a harsh critic, but this season is deserving of three stars. Whether I look at it as its own entity or in comparison to previous seasons, Season 7 just did not live up to standards. There were some high moments, and there were some episodes that momentarily renewed my faith that the writers were onto something, but ultimately I found myself disappointed in the end result.

The irony is that in most cases the writers will start running out of ideas in latter seasons. In this case, I think the writers have too many fresh ideas and filmed an abundance of stories in Season 7 that either weren't necessary or felt completely rushed. My biggest problem with How I Met Your Mother's seventh season is that the show tried to fit about three seasons of stories into a 24 episode arc.

**Will Contain Spoilers**

The first thing I look at in a season of expedited stories is the relationship aspect of the show. Robin, for example, started dating Kevin in the fifth episode of the season, 'Field Trip.' By the sixteenth episode, 'The Drunk Train', Kevin proposed to Robin. If I am to follow a timeline that runs parallel to the air dates of the episodes, Robin and Kevin dated for just over four months. Is it impossible? No, not really. Improbable, not impossible.
Barney's story with Quinn, though, just might be too far beyond believable. Noteworthy is the fact that we're talking about the quintessential womanizer for a good portion of the show. I liked the direction Barney's character was headed in. I thought his reconciliation with his father in Season 6 was a good turning point for him and a plausible explanation for his sudden change of lifestyle. However, this Quinn story is simply an overload of absolute silliness and absurdity. Barney met Quinn in 'The Drunk Train', episode 16. She didn't agree to go out with him until the eighteenth episode, 'Karma.' By the season finale, they'd been dating an astoundingly brief 2 ½ months, yet Barney proposes to her and she accepts without so much as a hesitation. I can't fathom in what walk of life this is realistic, especially given the fact that Barney is just a few months removed from leaving Nora because of his feelings for Robin. Over a season or two, this works. Over half a season this may even be justifiable, but the pace at which this story develops is plainly inconceivable.

The second thing I look at in this season of accelerated story lines is the fact that over the course of an 8 month period, Lily and Marshall called three different places home. Moving is certainly an arduous task for any couple to take on, but we're dealing with two moves in a matter of months by a couple expecting their first child. 'The Slutty Pumpkin Returns' first introduced the house in the suburbs, but it wasn't until Thanksgiving, 'The Rebound Girl' episode, that Marshall and Lily agree to move into her grandparents' old home. While my feelings on the move were lukewarm to begin with, the brevity of their stint on Long Island combined with the lack of funny stories associated with the house pushed me over the edge. I thought it was a fantastic idea for Ted to give Lily and Marshall their old apartment back, but the mess leading up to that moment cast a dark cloud over what should have been a joyous full-circle moment.
*And on the subject, why is Ted subletting someone's apartment when he just as easily could've moved into the house he purchased two years earlier? My only explanation is his desire to stay in the city, but it shocks me what little mention of his house has been made since 'Home Wreckers' aired in Season 5.

All that being said, a formidable season finale could have negated a lot of the wrong turns the show made in Season 7. While I was generally content with most of what went on, I needed time to digest the last 15 minutes or so of the season. The Barney/Quinn/Robin side of the story was utterly predictable and I was ultimately both pleased and slightly relieved with the wedding couple. It should be interesting to see how the writers get from where they are now to where they need to be.
The Ted and Victoria side of the story, however, I'm still feeling some animosity towards. Let me state for the record that Victoria is my favorite recurring character on the show. I thought she was dynamite in Season 1, and her appearance in 'Ducky Tie' not only helped tie up some loose ends but it served as a reminder that some old flames just never burn out. If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Ted and Victoria would wind up back together, I would have been ecstatic. But the way it was done felt over-the-top, rushed, and above all, unrealistic. It didn't have to be Victoria's wedding day, first of all. That served no purpose but to make Ted look like a villain for doing to another what nearly killed him. Second of all, Victoria's dialogue in the bar was very strange and outlandish considering the circumstances. She'd spent one evening with Ted in six years. She had zero contact with him otherwise, and it just felt way too easy for this woman to bail on everything her life had in store to "ride off into the sunset" with another man. There needed to be rising action here. The story needed a few episodes to develop, and if Victoria felt this strongly about Ted, she should've been the one to initiate contact with him. It all felt very wrong, and again (to beat a dead horse), implausible. I thought the one saving grace from their resurrected romance was Ted's flashbacks right before he decided to drive past the church. Obviously this is a girl he'd watched walk out on him twice through no fault of his own, and I can understand why Ted could not bear the thought of watching her go again. After all, as Robin put it, this was the one that got away. But as badly as I want to buy into this story, it's just too much of a reach. I hope they clean it up in Season 8.

With all that being said, I thought the show did some good things in Season 7:
- 'Ducky Tie' (7.03) was a great episode, in my opinion. Victoria helped drive the story, but I was more drawn in by the group's interaction at the Japanese restaurant. Very clever, vintage HIMYM
- 'The Slutty Pumpkin Returns' (7.08) was supposed to be an episode seven seasons in the making. I thought Katie Holmes played the character very awkwardly and her story with Ted was weak [not to mention there wasn't much slutty about the pumpkin]. However, everything else about the episode was hilarious, from Barney's revelation to Lily's pregnancy brain, this episode had me laughing the whole way through
- 'Disaster Averted' (7.09) was one of the best episodes of the series, if you ask me. Great usage of Hurricane Irene to build Lily and Marshall's pregnancy story, Marshall's health insurance story was gold and any episode utilizing the slap bet is a winner in my book
- 'Symphony Of Illumination' (7.12) was a dramatic, heartfelt Christmas episode and really displayed a lot of depth for a sitcom. I was very impressed with Cobie Smulders' performance.
- The usage of Lily's doppelganger and the two alternate title sequences were very funny in '46 Minutes' (7.14)
- 'No Pressure' (7.17) was an all around great episode. The last couple minutes of the episode used the song "Shake It Out" by Florence + The Machine, and it worked perfectly with the mood the show was trying to convey.
- 'Trilogy Time' (7.20) jumped around in the lives of Ted, Marshall and Barney. I loved the pop cultural references from the various times. Ultimately, this was an episode that could have fit right in to the show at its highest point.
- 'Now We're Even' (7.21) in a way was similar to the show if you look at it collectively. You knew how it was going to end, but you weren't sure how it would get there. That's why I enjoyed it.

Setting aside my problems with the big picture, there were times in Season 7 when the show had a very fundamental problem: it just wasn't all that funny.
- 'Tick Tick Tick...' (7.10) was painfully unfunny, even if Neil Patrick Harris' remarkable acting somewhat saved the episode.
- Though I moderately enjoyed the short-lived "Puzzles", Marshall's visit to his father's grave in 'Tailgate' (7.13) was just plain bizarre and anti-climactic.
- While the room-by-room storytelling of 'The Burning Beekeeper' (7.15) was original, the stories themselves were underwhelming. I like Mickey Aldrin's biggest character quirk, which is to invent the next great American board game. I don't like much else about him, and with much of this episode's success riding on his beekeeping story, it crashed and burned.
- 'Field Trip' (7.05), 'The Rebound Girl' (7.11) and 'Karma' (7.18) just felt like lazy episodes, not in terms of the writing or the acting, but just in the overall execution. To me they were the kind of episodes that you wouldn't turn off if they were on TV, but after awhile they'd just be background noise while you did something else. They just didn't draw me in, & as a huge fan of the show I hate admitting to that.

** ** **

I think the show has become victimized by its own success. The premise, the way we knew the ending before the story even began, backed the writers into a corner. Once the show started drawing praise and the network kept renewing it, the writers had to find ways to stall. It worked beautifully for awhile, but now the lack of preparation is beginning to show. It's really no one's fault, either, but this is the kind of story that probably needed to wrap up in five or six seasons before it became absurd. I'm hoping Season 7 as a whole is just an isolated miss. I will continue watching the show, but How I Met Your Mother's best days are almost certainly a thing of the past now.

Grade: C+
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2012 9:48 AM PST

New York Jets - NFL Soft Luggage Bag Tag
New York Jets - NFL Soft Luggage Bag Tag
Offered by Silver_Sales_LLC
Price: $7.75
7 used & new from $3.00

5.0 out of 5 stars They'll Know Where You're From, July 2, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an excellent luggage tag if you're looking to spruce up your travels a little bit. I bought it because I always have a hard time finding my bag and I was very pleased with the product. It's sturdy and well crafted and has a window on the opposite side where you can fill out your name, address & phone number. The material is not cheap and I will put your mind at ease if you're on the fence about making the purchase: it's a great product and well worth the money.

The Big Bang Theory: Season 4
The Big Bang Theory: Season 4
DVD ~ Johnny Galecki
Price: $14.99
47 used & new from $10.12

148 of 187 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lot of Action, A Lot Less Direction, May 24, 2011

Season 4 of 'The Big Bang Theory' had just one thing that separated it from every other show about a group of friends in their late 20's/early 30's: Sheldon Cooper.
When the show first began, it was about a stereotypical Midwestern blonde girl who moves to California to make it big, and she happens to move across the hall from two Caltech geniuses who severely lack the social skills of the average human being. At the beginning of the series, Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj were absorbed by science. The humor was a product of their "experiments" and their inability to fit into the social environment. Here we are four seasons later, and that concept has become scarce as the story has progressed. Sheldon was the only facet of the show that gave it originality this season. I love the show, but it pains me to say that S4 of 'The Big Bang Theory' started to get away from what made it so great.

It baffles me why the show would decide to introduce so many new cast members in such a short period of time. As a guy, when I first watched the show, I didn't take to the 4:1 guys to girls ratio. However, that's one of the things made it unique (see: Seinfeld). Penny was able to hold up a level of femininity that most actresses couldn't. She was the perfect solo female star. Not only does evening the gender ratio make this show like every other comedy on television, but it reduces Penny's role on the show. She didn't need a "posse." The show spent much of Season 4 trying to balance seven main characters (eight once Priya became a regular) when the only ones who really are essential to its continued excellence are Sheldon and Penny.

My synopsis of our "new" characters:
*I'm sorry to say this, but Amy Farrah Fowler is a mess of a character. First, she was introduced as the lady Sheldon, someone who only communicated with Dr. Cooper through webcam and text message and had no interest in developing any real social relationships. Then the show decides that Amy should try to befriend Penny and Bernadette and the three of them would become their own girl group. Since that time, Amy has become a complete one-eighty of her former self, awkward and clueless but trying desperately to fit into the social scene. And I hate to say it, but it's nowhere near as funny as it should be. The strangest thing is that her relationship with Sheldon is essentially very little more than circumstantial now. Sheldon constantly asks, "what happened to you?", and here I'm wondering the same exact thing.

*Bernadette, I will admit I do like as a complimentary girl in the show. The only downfall with her is in dating Howard; I always liked the way Howard thought he was so much more suave and debonair with women than he actually was, and putting him in a relationship takes that element of his character away. Bernadette can stand on her own. She's a sweet, cute, sometimes airheaded but lovable character (and to be quite honest, I could listen to her voice all day). She didn't need to be one of the boys' love interests to find a role on the show. Either way, I think she'd work best in a recurring role, something akin to that of Leslie Winkle in the first couple seasons.

*It's kind of a paradox that I liked the idea of Leonard dating Raj's sister, but I don't like Raj's sister. The idea was good because of the dynamic it created between Leonard and Raj, Raj and Priya, Penny and Priya, so on and so forth. The problem is I didn't find that her character brought much of anything to the show. The fact that she was attractive and that threatened Penny was a clever twist because it made Penny re-think her decision to end things with Leonard (and ultimately, we find out that it's a decision she regretted). So I thought the situation they created by having Leonard date Priya was good, but Priya just doesn't seem to fit on the show. Now from what we learned in the season finale, her role on the show may be hanging in the balance. I'm not aching for her to leave the show, but I wouldn't miss her too much if she went that route.

The show suffered a minor slump when Kaley Cuoco broke her leg and had to be absent for two full episodes. Those episodes perfectly showcased how vital the character of Penny is to the show's success. In "The Desperation Emanation" (ep. 4.05), Leonard is set up by Bernadette with a girl named Joy. Her character was not only unfunny, she was downright repulsive. In a season with peaks and valleys, it didn't get any lower than Joy.

By no means am I saying this show has jumped the shark. It had many redeeming moments and a few classic episodes:

*"The Robotic Manipulation" (ep. 4.01) so perfectly personifies Howard Wolowitz.
*"The Love Car Displacement" (ep. 4.13) was a great episode top to bottom. Including a guest appearance from former NBA player Rick Fox, it is the best the writers got out of their extended cast. There was great balance, funny storylines and laugh out loud moments.
*"The Justice League Recombination" (ep. 4.11) re-introduces us to Zack, a hilariously dumb ex-boyfriend of Penny's. The New Year's Eve costume contest is classic 'Big Bang.'
*"The Herb Garden Germination" (4.20) is the high school rumor mill, 'Big Bang' style. I loved it (and it's probably Amy's best episode).
*When the group starts hanging out at Raj's apartment, Sheldon decides he'd rather just replace them with new friends in "The Toast Derivation." (ep. 4.17) Clever episode and very well executed.
*"The Zarnecki Incursion" (4.19) is a brilliant depiction of the gang looking to settle the score when Sheldon's World of Warcraft account gets hacked.
*"The Zazzy Substitution" (ep. 4.03) is the first time we see any sort of fallout from Sheldon's lack of social connection, and it results in a pretty hilarious new gig. I'm also a big fan of whenever Mrs. Cooper or Mrs. Hofstadter make an appearance.
*"The 21-Second Excitation" (ep. 4.08) proves that any episode can be made epic with an appearance from Sheldon's nemesis, Will Wheaton. ^Side note: (This episode is also the perfect example of why I don't like Amy; the humor associated with her character for most of the season is perfectly on display in this episode)

- Sheldon and Penny's back and forth at the Cheesecake Factory bar in "The Apology Insufficiency" (ep. 4.07) is incredible. It's astounding how funny those two actors can make simple conversation. Throughout the series, it's been most evident when they walk together up the three flights of stairs to their apartments.
- "Shelbot" was an inevitable story for a science fiction show to tell. "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification" (ep. 4.02)
- Raj's infatuation with Bernadette throughout the season makes for some great love triangle moments.

I didn't particularly love the season finale, but the way the stories all came together at the end was fantastic and should send the show into Season 5 with a head of steam. I loved the idea of having Penny get caught in a scandalous mistake. With Priya seemingly leaving the picture (at least for now), the possibilities are endless. Also worth asking: Will Howard be OK with Bernadette "wearing the pants" in the relationship, or will he finally pursue his PHD in Season 5? The questions are plentiful.

It was an uneven season. It was a season that did a lot of things but didn't really go anywhere definitive with it. I thought the emphasis was too much on developing social relationships and not enough on the science of the show.
- If you asked me what Leonard did in Season 4 other than date Priya, off the top of my head I couldn't tell you.
- Penny spent the entire season in denial over the fact that she wanted Leonard back. As a result, other than a brief stint with Zack and her drunken night with Raj, Penny was involved with no one in S4. Rather, the writers decided to develop her "posse", a decision you already know I wasn't a big fan of.
- Once Howard started dating Bernadette again, Howard stories became "Howard and Bernadette" stories. I'm kind of torn on this, because I think Howard is a better character when he's single, but I do like Bernadette for him. Either way, the writers need to find a way to channel vintage Wolowitz again.
- Sheldon Cooper is the anit-Fonz, and I think when all is said and done, he'll go down as one of the better characters in television history. He is a comedy pioneer for nerds, and he is THE redeeming quality when anything isn't working. Jim Parsons is well deserving of the Emmy he won in Season 3, and once again he demonstrates why he was the perfect choice for Sheldon.

A slight decline from its predecessors, but still as good a comedy as you'll find on television.

Grade: B+
Comment Comments (24) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2014 1:07 AM PDT

How I Met Your Mother: Season 6
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6
DVD ~ Josh Radnor
Offered by American_Standard
Price: $14.84
43 used & new from $6.85

58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Season That Tried To Get Mature, May 16, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
How I Met Your Mother is a great show. Let's get that out of the way first. It has excellent character development, clever humor and an original way of telling its story. With that in mind, I thought Season 6 was the first of the show in which maybe the writers were a little misguided and a little short on ideas. I'll start with the positives:

(Will contain spoilers if you haven't seen all of Season 6)

If you're considering purchasing this season, I'll give you five episodes that absolutely make it worth it:
"Big Days" (episode 6.01)
"Subway Wars" (episode 6.04)
"Blitzgiving" (episode 6.10)
"Legendaddy" (episode 6.19)
"Hopeless" (episode 6.21)

It's no coincidence that two of my favorite episodes of the season are the only two episodes John Lithgow played in. His portrayal of Barney Stinson's awkward long lost father is absolute dynamite. I can't rave enough about how well his character was drawn up. It made sense from a real life standpoint not only having Barney's father fail to live up to his son's expectations, but to turn him into a nervous wreck determined to please his son. John Lithgow stole the show in his two episode appearance, and both were vintage, quality 'How I Met Your Mother.' I really hope his character is recurring 'til the end of the series.

"Subway Wars" is the best episode of the season and one of the best in the series, if you ask me. Not only is it hilarious, but it really personifies what each character has brought to the table over the course of the series. Marshall's folk song was brilliant, Ted's need to convince strangers he's a good professor is priceless, and I always appreciate an appearance from Ranjit.

Other high points in Season 6:
- Barney uses his womanizing tactics to convince Ted to resume his GNB headquarters project (episode 6.03)
- The Robin Sparkles saga continues; it's not as good as the previous two, but solid on its own (episode 6.09)
- 'The Captain', Zoey's husband, makes sporadic appearances in Season 6, none better than when he and Ted spend a night out on his boat (episode 6.11)
- A very appropriate doppelganger for Barney Stinson (episode 6.13)
- Though I am no Katy Perry fan, her guest appearance as Zoey's cousin was a successful one, and generally speaking, "Oh Honey" (episode 6.15) was a good show
- Future Ted has a little trouble piecing together the story he's trying to tell in "The Mermaid Theory" (episode 6.11)
- Robin is the woman with everything in "Last Words" (episode 6.14)
- Robin & Lily discuss the effects of certain drinks on the group while trying to manipulate a fight between Marshall and Barney (episode 6.22)
- Wayne Brady is always a welcome sight on the show (episode 6.02)

I think the biggest redeeming quality about 'How I Met Your Mother' is that even if an episode or story isn't quite up to par, it has moments that make you want to keep watching. For a season that I thought didn't live up to its predecessors, there was still a lot about it I found original and funny.

On the downside:

- An epic failure: "Baby Talk" (episode 6.06) is my least favorite episode of the entire series, ironically airing just two weeks after what possibly could be my favorite. It wasn't funny, charming or intelligent in any way. I almost felt bad for Neil Patrick Harris; it was truly a painful episode to watch. [For the record, critics generally gave this episode favorable reviews, so maybe I'm in the minority]

- Jennifer Morrison's character, Zoey, I thought was pretty unlikeable. There were moments when it looked like she'd turned the corner, but ultimately I thought pretty much everything that went into this whole Arcadian story was bland and useless, Zoey leading the charge. I don't know if the writers just couldn't come up with a better story for Ted or this is actually leading to something, but I felt like the whole thing was a big, unnecessary stall. Again, there were moments, but "Landmarks" (episode 6.23) was very fittingly an unceremonious end to a less than riveting story.

- "The Exploding Meatball Sub" (episode 6.20) isn't a bad episode, but I'll probably pass on it when watching S6 on DVD. It's classic Barney, just a bit watered down and unimaginative. Marshall struggles in his decision to quit GNB and focus on saving the environment and not surprisingly, Ted & Zoey argue a lot. OK episode, but a forgettable one.

- I know there's a lot of realism in a couple trying and failing to get pregnant, but did Marshall and Lily's conception story have to last an entire season? It's starting to make sense why the show would be renewed for two more seasons. Think about how long this baby story will have lasted when it's finally up:
Season 5 - Lily looks for a sign from a higher power to tell her she & Marshall are ready to have children.
Season 6 - Lily and Marshall try to conceive a child.
Season 7 - Lily is pregnant.
Season 8 - Lily finally has her "family."
I'm all in favor of television shows telling stories that are true to life, but I think an entire 24 episode arc is too much (especially in a sitcom) to tell the story of a couple trying to get pregnant. Ironically, one of the episodes told the story of how Robin's patience with Lily was wearing thin when Lily could talk about nothing but babies. That felt like the story of Season 6. I'm sure Alyson Hannigan handled it with class, but it definitely wasn't one of the better decisions the crew made for the Lily character.
*It's a no brainer that Lily is going to have her baby in the Season 7 finale. The Season 6 finale took place in September, which would put May of 2012 (or the S7 finale) 8 months away. I can't imagine the all kinds of crazy Marshall will be next season. Can't wait for that!*

Barney is growing up (and it's no coincidence reconciling with his father coincided with it). While it's a nice transition in the life and times of Barney Stinson, it also means we're looking at an all new character in development in the next two seasons. I was kind of disappointed with the lack of sexual escapades and vintage Barney shenanigans, but seeing what it led into gave me a little peace of mind. After all, you could tell all season he still had feelings for Robin, and when Nora entered the picture, you could see everything Barney was about beginning to change right before your eyes. Now that we know Ted meets his future wife at Barney's wedding, we wait to see which girl is the one that stole Barney's heart. I don't think it's any secret who most of us want.

Take it as you see it; there are pros and cons. It's not great but it's good. Could it be the beginning of a decline? Maybe, but the show did still flash fairly regular signs of greatness, so it could just be an isolated miss. Nothing really changed in the status quo with "the mother", but I'm fine with that. A lot of people are starting to take on this "get it over with, already" mentality. I'm not, because when we finally find out who the mother is, it's over. I want the show to continue. I would've liked a little more progress in the "mother" story, but let's maintain that patience is a virtue. It's a show worth watching, and even if it's not what it once was, I'll still classify it as legen-wait for it...-DARY!

Grade: B/B+
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2013 12:18 AM PDT

Dexter: Season 5
Dexter: Season 5
DVD ~ Michael C. Hall
Offered by Warehouse Deals 4 Less
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dexter Morgan: An American Anti-Hero, May 10, 2011
This review is from: Dexter: Season 5 (DVD)
This would be a 5 star season if it weren't for some bizarre stories and plot holes within the main storyline. I love Dexter, but I felt like there was some sloppiness and too many loose ends in the handling of Season 5. It's a season with an excellent premise, but mildly disappointing execution.

**Possible Spoilers Below**

A new partnership forms between Dexter and Lumen Pierce, a victim of Dexter's latest target. Lumen, who's played by Julia Stiles, is easily the dark horse of the season as far as I'm concerned. Her character is semi-unoriginal (Season 3's Miguel Prado shared a similar role), but she brings a freshness and emotional element to the show that Dexter Morgan lacks and Rita left behind. I thought the story of Lumen courting Dex to help track down the men who'd abused her and held her captive was magnificent. The chemistry between the two characters was far beyond anything I could have hoped for considering how invested I'd become in the Dexter/Rita dynamic. Additionally, there was something about this particular vigilante quest that feels different from any of Dexter's previous work, possibly because for the first time vengeance is being delivered by the victim. Either way, I was really drawn into Lumen and Dexter's story; it was dramatic, entertaining and charming all at the same time.

Unfortunately from there, the season becomes a bit of a subtle mess. I have no problem looking past minor errors or drawing up my own conclusions as to why this or that could've fit the story, but a few of the subplots just didn't seem to come together in Season 5. The first thing I couldn't understand was why so little time was spent wrapping up Rita's story. After watching the Season 4 finale, my first thought was why the writers would kill off Trinity when they could've built the ultimate vengeance story revolving around the two serial killers in Season 5. I really thought Dexter hunting down Trinity to avenge Rita's death could've been the defining plot line in the series. Rather, the writers chose to focus on Rita for just one episode, only sporadically mentioning her from that point on. Astor's struggles in coping with her mother's death was just about the most invested the writers got in Rita from that point forward, and it felt unrealistic, even for the emotionally challenged Dexter, to write her off so quickly.

The Santa Muerte killer story is nothing more than a stall, if you ask me. It's not bad at all, but essentially it has no tie-in whatsoever to the barrel girl murders. I'm not really sure what to make of it; you just figure each subplot is linked to the main story in some way, shape or form. Aside from a couple very minor connections, this really wasn't, and considering what a big part of the first seven or so episodes it was, I was surprised what an irrelevant, distant memory it became by season's end.

Finally, Quinn's refusal to work with Agent Liddy after news of his suspicions reached Deb caused him to ignore very incriminating evidence against Dexter and Lumen. It was so blatant that when Dexter finds Liddy's pictures in Quinn's apartment, he mistakenly thinks Quinn is uncovering his secret life. The short of it is this: Quinn becomes so enamored with Deborah Morgan that he decides to drop his investigation of Dexter and ignore any and all dirt Liddy digs up in favor of preserving his relationship with Deb. Quinn was all over the place in Season 5, and I just found him to be completely out of character at times and his story impossible to believe.

On the flip side, I found Lumen's reason for leaving Dexter a little easy, but definitely feasible. I'd like to see her return to the show at some point in the future if the writers find a good way to work her into a story.
Though their characters were a little more unlikeable than usual, Maria and Angel deliver a very dramatic and tense subplot with their personal lives and professional lives clashing out in the open. Agent Liddy quickly develops a "here comes trouble" reputation, certainly a welcome addition to the show despite his malicious intentions. Lastly, I thought Trinity was too likeable for an antagonist (doesn't help that I'm a big fan of John Lithgow), so I was thrilled at how easily I could dislike Jordan Chase. Not only is that attributed to excellent character development, but Jonny Lee Miller deserves a lot of credit for his portrayal of the motivational speaker leading a double life.

Of course, some things never change. Michael C. Hall brings Dexter to life, continuing to make the serial killer one of the most compelling characters on television. Michael's performance coupled with that of Julia Stiles really gave the plot a head of steam in Season 5. I thought in spite of Lumen's sad departure, the season finale was well crafted and well executed. It not only leaves you with a feeling of closure, but also leaves you wondering whether or not the status quo has changed.

** **

It has its problems along the way, but ultimately Season 5 was as good of a television drama as you'll come across. I gave it 4 stars; it's probably a little bit less than that, but I like giving shows the benefit of the doubt for sustained excellence. Dexter is absolutely still one of the best shows on television, and with Season 6 in production, we have more to look forward to.

Grade: B+
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2011 9:56 AM PDT

Scrubs: Season 8
Scrubs: Season 8
DVD ~ Zach Braff
Offered by Media Favorites
Price: $9.92
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Show That Resurrected Itself, November 12, 2010
This review is from: Scrubs: Season 8 (DVD)
Very seldom is a show able to find its groove again after taking the dip into mediocrity. Scrubs is one of the few that was able to revive its roots and go out on a high note. Season 8 was one of the best of the show, and in my opinion, one of the best final seasons of a show I've ever seen (no, we're not counting Season 9 here).

There are two distinct differences in Season 8.
* First off, in order to cut costs, each main character, even JD, was absent from a few shows. Sarah Chalke and Zach Braff didn't appear in two episodes, while the rest of the main cast (meaning the characters that appear on the DVD box) missed three apiece. Not only does this not hinder the show by any means, I actually think it strengthens it. By focusing on fewer characters an episode, it created a stronger connection between some of them. One episode in particular (one of the two without JD) was centered around Turk and Eliot, and I think was the best insight into their relationship in the entire series. You see a lot more of this, and believe me, it's a good thing.

* Secondly, and rather appropriately, the show toned down on some of the silliness that made it unique in the first seven seasons. As a matter of fact, it's the complete opposite of Season 7. I thought the strike-shortened season was way too heavy on the absurdity. Ironically, there was an episode of Season 7 in which JD wonders if he needs to grow up. At that point in the series, you figure the main characters are well into their 30's. The character growth and maturation that was missing in Season 7 became a driving force in Season 8. It was still quirky, still hilarious, but more touching, more "grown up" than it'd ever been. It was a conscious effort for the writers to start working towards a resolution for each character, and I honestly felt that each actor, notably Ken Jenkins (who portrays Dr. Kelso), played their role beautifully. The show was still about the hospital, which was an element I felt they started to get away from in Seasons 6 & 7, but it was also about the lives of the hospital's staff, and the writers created a perfect balance to bring this show to a near picture perfect close.

I just had three issues with Season 8, one of them of which the show no longer had control over.

- I know opinions on Kim's character, portrayed by Elizabeth Banks, are split down the middle. However, I always liked Kim and wished the show had used her more in Season 8. With main characters consistently absent from episodes in Season 8, it would've been a perfect time to develop the mother of JD's child a little bit more before the series closed. I always felt like she and JD had a kind of dysfunctional chemistry, and it made for some great scenes and episodes from the end of Season 5 to the end of the series. However disappointed in her only appearing in two episodes, I did enjoy the twist ending they gave to her story.

- A gaping hole in Season 8, though there was nothing the show could do about this, was the lacking presence of Laverne. From what I've read, the show was under the impression that Season 6 was going to be their final season; if they had known otherwise, they wouldn't have brought her character to such an abrupt end. With that said, I know Laverne's death made for a powerful couple of episodes, but in the long run I didn't see the need for it. Of course, she made a couple brief appearances in Season 7 as a new nurse only JD saw as a lookalike, but I still missed Laverne's quick wit and incredible spirit after her unfortunate accident In Season 6.

- Finally, I thought there was far too little of Keith in Season 8. He had obviously become a staple in the cast from Seasons 5 through 7, and though I understand Eliot's decision to end their engagement was a major blow to Keith's role in the show, I don't think they gave his character enough closure. If I'm not mistaken, I believe he only appeared in the first and last episode of Season 8, and he didn't even have a line in the finale. Keith was an important character for the direction of the show in the late seasons and I felt like after the first episode in Season 8, he was just tossed aside and forgotten about.

With that being said, Season 8 of Scrubs was a gem. I've never been a big fan of Season 7, and by the time the fantasy episode aired, I was convinced the writers had run out of ideas and maybe it was time the show had reached its unceremonious ending. I'm happy to say I was proven wrong.
- Courtney Cox played an excellent role as Taylor Maddox, Dr. Kelso's successor as Chief of Medicine. I liked the bizarre personality they gave her combining elements of pure kindness and pure evil. Her role only lasted three episodes, but it got the ball rolling in Season 8.
- Denise, played by Eliza Coupe, was also a pleasant surprise as one of the new interns. From her boyish personality to her odd fetishes to her inability to connect with her patients, I thought the Denise (Jo) character was dynamite whenever on screen. I was impressed with the idea from the writers to pair JD, widely regarded as very feminine, with Denise, who had many masculine qualities. It was a formula made for hilarious scenes. I only wish Denise had been introduced earlier in the show so we could've enjoyed more of her (she was also the only "new" character in Season 9 that I thought brought a freshness and high level of humor to the show).

The rest you can find out as you watch. 'My Finale', for the record, is still my favorite series finale ever. There are shows that go out with a bang, there are shows that go out in style with tears all around, and then there are shows that just do it simple and do it right. I feel Scrubs got it right, and because the show was given a chance to finish on their own terms, I think they brought it full circle and saved a series that was in danger of ending on a sour note. I highly recommend this season and hope you enjoy Scrubs as much as I have.

Grade: A

Bon Jovi Greatest Hits - The Ultimate Collection
Bon Jovi Greatest Hits - The Ultimate Collection
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120 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Timeless, November 9, 2010
First let me say that I'm amongst the younger generation of Bon Jovi fans. I was born in 1985, so I wasn't an avid music fan until the 'Crush' album. From there, I had to work my way backwards, and though I've listened to every album (incl. '100,000,000 BJ Fans Can't Be Wrong') beginning to end, the fans that were listening to Bon Jovi while they were on the rise in the 80's and early 90's might be able to give you a more accurate depiction of how well this Greatest Hits album represents Bon Jovi through the years. However, I'm gonna take a stab at it.

The album is divided into two discs of which feature 16 and 12 songs, respectively. All but two songs on either CD are previously released songs/singles spanning Bon Jovi's 25+ years in the music business. The first thing I looked for was album representation, and I was disappointed to find that only nine of the band's eleven studio albums were featured. I'll quickly break it down for you:

Bon Jovi: 1 song - "Runaway"
7800º Fahrenheit - None
Slippery When Wet: 3 songs - "Livin' On A Prayer", "You Give Love A Bad Name", "Wanted Dead Or Alive"
New Jersey: 5 songs - "Bad Medicine", "Born To Be My Baby", "I'll Be There For You", "Lay Your Hands On Me", "Blood On Blood"
Keep The Faith: 3 songs - "In These Arms", "Keep The Faith", "Bed Of Roses"
These Days: 2 songs - "This Ain't A Love Song", "These Days"
Crush: 1 song - "It's My Life"
Bounce: None
Have A Nice Day: 2 songs - "Who Says You Can't Go Home (feat. Jennifer Nettles)", "Have A Nice Day"
Lost Highway: 2 songs - "Lost Highway", "(You Want To) Make A Memory"
The Circle: 2 songs - "We Weren't Born To Follow", "When We Were Beautiful"

- The other three previously released songs are "Always" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night", from the greatest hits album 'Cross Road' in 1994, and "Blaze Of Glory", first released in 1990 on Jon Bon Jovi's solo album of the same title.

You see it yourself. While the 'New Jersey' album is easily the highest regarded on this compilation, '7800º Fahrenheit' and 'Bounce' were not represented at all. While I understand neither was by any means a defining album for Bon Jovi, both needed to be recognized on here as part of the band's repertoire, especially "In & Out Of Love." Also, in my opinion, 'Bounce' could have been represented by either 'Everyday' or 'Misunderstood', preferably the latter if you ask me. While neither song was ever a major cog in the Bon Jovi machine (especially in the U.S.), both singles were present on various charts throughout the world and "Everyday" was even nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Group With Vocal.

Four other songs I thought should've made the cut:
** "Raise Your Hands" from 'Slippery When Wet' - Also one of, if not the best live song the band does, in my opinion (from the two times I saw Bon Jovi live)
** "Never Say Goodbye" from 'Slippery When Wet' - This is probably the most glaring exclusion on the album; reached #11 on the U.S. Mainstream rock charts in '87
** "Dry County" from 'Keep The Faith' - It never quite reached the level of popularity I think it deserved, probably because of its length (nearly 10 minutes), but I personally think this is the most underrated single, maybe even song, the band has ever released
** "I Love This Town" from 'Lost Highway' - It was never released as a single, but I've heard it used in various promos/TV spots over the past few years, most notably for me by Major League Baseball

The biggest problem isn't really a problem at all. I went to a Bon Jovi concert in New Jersey when he was on The Circle Tour, and he played about thirty songs (a massive set that lasted over three hours); yet when my friend and I were leaving the stadium, she was talking about some of the songs she wished the band had played. Well... the same thing goes for this album; this band has so many hits that no matter how you pick and choose your favorites, something is going to be left off and somebody is going to be disappointed.
Now, personally, I thought "Blood On Blood" was a take it or leave it song. Of course I could, and probably will, be in the minority. But either way, it's a great problem to have when you actually have too many hits for a 2-disc set. I've always thought when you're releasing an album of songs already released before, you should fill up as much of the CD as possible. There's no logical reason why an even thirty songs couldn't have been used here. When you do a 'Greatest Hits', especially (as some reviewers have noted prior to me), an >"Ultimate"< Greatest Hits, you should spare none of the essential cuts. This could very well be the album that teenagers are buying twenty years from now when they're first introduced to Bon Jovi's music. You don't want them to miss out on anything.

Now, onto the new songs.
"What Do You Got" - A mid-tempo love song, classic Bon Jovi. It didn't really catch on with me 'til recently. I like it, but it's quite not in that "repeat" zone for me. 8/10

"The More Things Change" - Sounds like something that would've fit very well onto 'The Circle' album. Kind of a retro-ed up modern rock song. Again, it didn't quite hit me as anything spectacular, but I've grown fond of it over a few listens. 8/10

"This Is Love This Is Life" - This song struck me from the first listen. Great up-tempo song, great for concerts. I will even go as far as to say it's an anthem in the making. It's very, very vintage 80's Bon Jovi. I fell in love with it by the end of the first chorus. 9.5/10

"No Apologies" - Very quirky song from a pretty polished band. I don't even know how to really describe it. It's a song that has momentum and finds its way on a creative pace and a great guitar solo from our good man, Richie. 8.5/10

Bands like Bon Jovi last so long that by the time they're finally done doing their thing, they may have two or three different Greatest Hits albums. For all we know (and I hope this is the case), Jon and Richie could write another five albums and we'll see the "Ultimate Super Hits" Bon Jovi collection in 2025.
For now, this album has some imperfections, but it's still one of the most complete GH albums I've ever come across from a band whose career spans more than a decade. There's very little to complain about, at least from my perspective. My only gripes I made a point of on here (because everyone needs to hear both the pros and the cons), but what it boils down to is you're getting 28 of the best songs this band has written over a quarter of a century. This is where listeners first getting into Bon Jovi need to start.

Highly recommended.

Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 4, 2013 7:50 AM PDT

The Playbook: Suit up. Score chicks. Be awesome.
The Playbook: Suit up. Score chicks. Be awesome.
by Barney Stinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.94
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suit Up!, October 7, 2010
This is a hilarious read, another gem from the 'How I Met Your Mother' series. The "plays" Barney Stinson uses to pick up women would not work on a girl with half a brain in real life, but nevertheless, it's fun to think about trying to pull off some of these moves on girls. You take it for what it is-- a great extension of a great episode of the show. The ones featured on the show are there: "The Mrs. Stinsfire", "The My Penis Grants Wishes", "The Cheap Trick", "The Scuba Diver", "The He's Not Coming", "The Snasa", "The Don't Drink That!", "The Ted Mosby", "The Scuba Diver", and among others, my personal favorite, "The Lorenzo Von Matterhorn."

There are exactly 76 plays broken down into sections from the basic to the advanced. Each play has its own fact sheet. You're given a success rate, what type of woman the play attracts, the requirements to perform the play, the prep time, and the "bummers", which is a way of saying "but here's the catch."
From there, the play is broken down into steps. The rest is self-explanatory.
I won't explain any of the new plays in detail, but I'll give you a couple play names so as to build a little intrigue:
- "The Little Orphan Barney"
- "The Ghost"
- "The Mannequin"
- "The Confused Inheritor"
- "The Ballet Defector"
- "The Vampire"
- "The I Can Land This Plane"
- "The Trojan Lesbian"
- "The Ghost Of Christmas Future"

It carries much of the same type of humor as 'The Bro Code.' It follows common stereotype assumptions of men and women, leaves little remarks, anecdotes and/or tips at the end of some plays (and in between) and extensively uses sarcasm to make very obvious points. If you're a fan of 'The Bro Code', I highly recommend picking this up. It's creative and smart and I doubt would be offensive or repulsive in any way to anyone. As a matter of fact, I think it appeals just as much to women as it does men, especially those women who have been the target of some ridiculous pick-up scheme (I'm guessing that's somewhere in the range of most to all). After all, they're the "victims" in this, so to speak. Might as well make light of it.

Like the show, 'The Playbook' is well thought out, well executed, and well... just plain quirky. Hopefully it wins your praise as well.

Note: The episode this book is based on is called 'The Playbook.' It's episode 8 of Season 5 and the 96th of the series.

Grade: A+

A Thousand Suns
A Thousand Suns
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Easy to be Unfair, September 26, 2010
This review is from: A Thousand Suns (Audio CD)
From 'Hybrid Theory' in 2000 to 'A Thousand Suns' in 2010, Linkin Park has easily become the most controversial band of the decade. Ironically, for once, the controversy is fan generated, not band generated. I'm not here to proclaim my hatred for Linkin Park leaving their nu metal roots. I loved their first two albums, but there were elements in that era of the band that held them back. Many fans hear the music, but don't listen to the band's intentions with it. 'A Thousand Suns' is a bit of an enigma. Linkin Park shows signs of true greatness, but they also stumble upon themselves at points. It's a 3 ½ star album, but I chose to round down because I was disappointed in the number of "filler" tracks. 5 tracks under 2:00 long (not including "The Requiem", which is just a shortened remix version of "The Catalyst") just doesn't cut it for me. You're looking at nine legitimate songs. We wait long enough for Linkin Park albums as it is.

Two places in which Linkin Park has vastly improved over their last two albums, whether we like to admit it or not, is their originality and their lyric writing. Let's face it; when you listen to the song structure...

"One Step Closer" = "Don't Stay"
"Crawling" = "Easier To Run"
"Pushing Me Away" = "Numb"

If this was Linkin Park's fourth nu metal album, I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of reviews called it "more recycled music from Linkin Park." But never has a band been so scrutinized for trying to be fresh and original (maybe Radiohead), at least not to my recollection.
Now, to my other point, the lyric writing... while the early days of Linkin Park provided catchy tunes and dueling vocals, (with some notable exceptions) the lyrics were very general, very simple and even bland at times. I'd classify most of the band's early writing as a demand for attention, a call out to critics, doubters and those who had done them wrong. And why not? It's hard hitting, relatable and easy to digest. But it's been done before. 'A Thousand Suns' is politically driven, dealing with current events and issues of warfare, an extension of 'Minutes To Midnight', an album I thought was a daring step out of Linkin Park's comfort zone. While an album shouldn't be judged on the writing alone, I think 'A Thousand Suns' should get some praise for its lyrical quality. Shinoda and Bennington deserve credit for tackling a more complex (and less self-involved) theme. It's not easy.

With that being said, onto the album itself.

When I say Linkin Park showed signs of greatness, I'm looking at 5 songs that make this album worth purchasing (in my opinion, of course):
"Burning In The Skies"
"Wretches and Kings"
"The Catalyst"
"The Messenger"

Those five songs define every generation of this band while implementing new heights and depths. From pianos to keyboards, electronica to hard hitting guitars, melodic vocals to raspy screams, the old dueling rock/rap to the textbook sing the verses/sing the chorus, and even an acoustic song. Musically, Linkin Park showcases every element in their repertoire on those five tracks. Listen to it for yourself; if you ask me, that's as good a collection of songs as anything I've heard from the band.

The problem is what comes next.
I can appreciate a desire to mix it up, but at times the pace is so slow that it could work as well as a "Sounds of the Rainforest" tape at putting me to sleep. Sadly, much of the album is constructed in a way where you feel like it's building up to something, but never quite gets there. The old adage is that an album should rise and fall. With many songs on 'A Thousand Suns', I felt like it never peaked, as if it actually started off on the decline. "Tease" is a bad word to use in the music industry.

The number of "ballads" (don't take the quotes for granted), at least by Linkin Park standards, is a waste of the vocal talent this band has. The notes Chester Bennington can hit are astounding, but rather than utilize them, Linkin Park has taken up the task of writing a series of melodramatic, uninteresting and uninspiring slow songs on their last two albums. The only one I truly like is "Hands Held High" from Minutes To Midnight, and that didn't feature Chester at all. But the list of mediocre attempts at something emotional and moving is getting too long. On 'A Thousand Suns', I am completely indifferent to "Waiting For The End" and "Iridescent". It's as simple as that, and from my experience, indifference is worse than hating it because hate implies care. I know with some people they could be popular songs, and for that I apologize, but I can't help but think there's a B-side somewhere that could've added more to this album.

'A Thousand Suns' is not a bad album; however, it's not as groundbreaking as Linkin Park intended it to be, and it's nowhere near as catchy as any of their previous three albums. It's like watching a mediocre comedy. It has its moments, but it's just not memorable.

*And for the record, I feel like it's inevitable that the Warner Bros. label is gonna try and cash in on a Greatest Hits album sometime next year. 10 years of Linkin Park and four original full-length albums historically is more than enough to warrant a compilation.

I don't chastise Linkin Park for trying something new, nor do I criticize them for getting away from the nu metal to begin with. I would've gotten tired of it, to be honest. I loved it while it lasted, but I firmly believe that each successive album would've been a somewhat lesser version of the one before. That's just the nature of re-creating something you've already done. My problem is in how drastically and how suddenly they changed. Bands evolve, that goes without saying. But the best ones can incorporate new elements into their music without losing their root sound. Linkin Park no longer has a defining, signature sound. So how are we supposed to describe them to our kids and our kids' kids? They're a band that always gave you something unexpected, but never quite gave you what you wanted.

Album Grade: B
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 27, 2010 3:25 PM PDT

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