September 25, 2022

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

2020: Year In Review

#Because2020

Normally, we here at Gabbing Geek bookend the calendar year with two mammoth posts.  On January 1st, there’s the “Year in Anticipation,” where we list the things we were looking forward to in any way and offer some thoughts on the coming year in entertainment, in the form of movies, TV shows, books, video games, and more.  And then on December 31st, we’d write a big review post for everything that came out that we actually got to see.

But this year was 2020, when the West Coast and the continent of Australia caught fire, a global pandemic forced a lot of people indoors and closed a lot of businesses, murder hornets were a thing, and the United States had an election that was no doubt far more contentious than it needed to be.  And, quite frankly, a lot of the things we had on this year’s Year in Anticipation post didn’t show.  So, we’re improvising, chatting up the things we took in that did come out and also chatting up some of the stuff that came along that took its place.  What did we do in 2020?  Read on.

Movies

Oh, the movies took a toll.  Lots of theaters closed, and after the first three months, most of the stuff we might have wanted to see, if it didn’t stream somewhere, it just didn’t happen.  So, here’s what we did take in.

The Grudge

Watson says:  This movie was almost indecipherable.  I didn’t see the original, but there was NOTHING compelling about this 99 cent rental…

Bad Boys for Life

Tom says:  Our box office champion for 2020!  It was…fine.  If anything, it seemed to be trying to tell a Bad Boys story with a bit more maturity, and not just because Martin Lawrence’s obviously chubbier character became a grandpa.

Watson says: I doubt I would have watched this but for 2020.  I never saw the second and didn’t really like the first one.  This was decent, though.  By returning to the franchise as older men, this played a bit like a Lethal Weapon “Too Old For This Shit” entry.

Jimmy says:  2020 box office champ?  I’m surprised they haven’t played that up more.  Maybe in a few years when they return for another mediocre installment of Bad Boys: Get Off My Damn Lawn.  (Oh, and the irony that it was Tom and not Watson that mentioned the box office take is not lost on me.)

The Voyage of Dr. Doolittle

Tom says:  What the hell was that?  I get that RDJ wants to show he can be more than Iron Man after so many MCU movies, but he still could have gone with a movie that was in some way good and not just a mess of stuff tossed into a blender and topped by whatever that weird accent Downey was using.

Watson says: I didn’t hate this like everyone else did.  One of the few movies I saw in the theater, there were parts that really indicate a franchise could have been created if they made a few better choices.

Jimmy says:  I’m with Tom, this movie was awful.  I feel bad for Downey (if you can feel bad for famous multi-millionaires) that he’s out as lead of the MCU and this is what he is reduced to?

Birds of Prey

Tom says:  This was…fine.  It had a lot of good elements.  I liked the way this version of Gotham City was like a mix of every previous movie set there.  I liked the cast.  Margot Robbie nails the role.  The action scenes worked.  I really dug Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s deadpan take on the Huntress.  But the movie as a whole never really added up to much more than just…fine.

Watson says: Yeah.  It was  FINE.  Just fine.  Not bad.  Not good.  But fine.  Wish it would have been great.  The players are all there…though I did NOT think Winstead (a Watson favorite) nailed it.  But please bring back Smollette’s Black Canary in future DCEU properties!

Jimmy says:  I’ll make it three fines.

Ryan says: I tried to watch it twice. I fell asleep twice.

Fantasy Island

Tom says:  Michael Pena is good in just about everything, but this was nowhere near as cool as the trailer, with a twist ending that I largely didn’t care much for.

Watson says: It wasn’t terrible, but agree with Tom that the trailer was better.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Tom says:  I found this surprisingly fun.  Jim Carrey was back in something like his old form, they did some neat stunts with superspeed, and I somehow ended up enjoying the hell out of this for some reason.  This may be, by default, the best video game movie I’ve ever seen…largely because it’s the only one based on an actual video game that I actually liked.

Watson says: They really did go back to the well after the trailers tanked and made a surprisingly good movie.  Extra points for being one of the last movies I saw at the theater this year!

Ryan says: If we punch 2020 hard enough, will gold rings come out?

Bloodshot

Tom says:  As a fan of Valiant’s comics, I really wanted this to do well.  Instead, it’s basically an average Vin Diesel movie.

Watson says: One of the most horrific aspects of the quarantine was I got desperate and bought this the day it became available.  Now it is in my permanent library as a mark of shame…

Jimmy says:  This was exactly what you would expect from a Vin Diesel comic book action movie.  It far from didn’t launch a Valiant Movie Universe, but was perfectly cromulent.

The Invisible Man

Tom says:  Now, this is how you should update the old Universal Monsters, not that Tom Cruise Mummy movie.  Plus, I’d watch Elizabeth Moss read a grocery list.  Solid and scary.

Watson says: I differ from Tom on this one.  I thought Moss was great (and this made me really eager to see Ardis play Hawkman), but the movie was dull and ruined by the trailer…

Onward

Tom says:  It’s Pixar, so I cut it a bit of slack, but this one still turned out a bit mediocre.  And, in a sign of the pandemic times, very quickly added to Disney+…

Watson say:  Even watching this for free on Disney+ didn’t make up for the mediocre Pixar offering.  This felt like a mediocre Dreamworks offering…

Jimmy says:  …I actually thought it was from Dreamworks.

Mulan

Tom says:  Well, it was a little bit more original than most of Disney’s live action remakes, but let’s just say I was very glad I didn’t shell out $30 to watch this mediocre rehash early.

Watson says: Me, my son, and my mom watched this in the $30 window (I am a movie addict… I know…) and it wasn’t worth $10 per person.  Maybe if Clayton had been around to watch it, a $7.50 per person rate might have been ok…

New Mutants

Tom says:  Nothing that gets pushed back as much as this movie did is going to be a masterpiece of any kind.  And it wasn’t.  What a forgettable way to end Fox’s X-franchise…

Watson says: It was not good for an X-movie, but it was ok.  This was not a film that should have been pushed back three years.

Jimmy says:  I agree with Watson.  There’s no particular reason this needed to be pushed back three years.  Maybe they had designs to reshoot the whole thing to turn it into an X-blockbuster, but that was never going to happen.  Could also had done significantly better had it gone direct to streaming as more of an “event”.

Trolls World Tour

Tom says:  I didn’t see this one, but I’m sure someone around here will have something to say about how it had some financial success despite lots of theaters being closed.

Watson says: It is every bit as good as the original.  I didn’t like the original…

Greyhound

Tom says:  Tom Hanks could do a movie like this in his sleep.  He also wrote the screenplay.  It’s fine, but nowhere near the best of the year.  Maybe News of the World turned out better…

Watson says: Tom Kelly about nailed it regarding Tom Hanks’ summer film.  It was fine but it was definitely a movie that should stream, so it was a nice add by Apple +.

Artemis Fowl

Tom says:  You know what?  This movie sucked.  Moving on…

Watson says: This movie was the worst of the films I saw this year.  I only enjoyed one part of the movie, and it was unintentional comedy…

Wonder Woman 1984

Tom says:  I liked the movie while I watched it.  The opening sequence is great, the performances of Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are good, the chemistry between Pine and Gadot is still great, and the way the movie tried to set up supervillains who were more representative of human weakness than standard evil cacklers looking into world domination.  So, why is it the more I think about this movie, the more I think it was something of a mess?

Watson says: Because it was a mess, Tom. What a train wreck!?! The plot was a convoluted mess. I respect the central story idea of the wishing rock and Lord’s drive for power and respect, but complex and ambitious plot lines are generally home runs or strike outs. Endgame had a complicated time heist that could have totally gone off the rails. Nope. Steroid era home run! This one? Swing and a miss, lost control of the bat and it hit the Boy Scout in the third row in the head.

Jimmy says:  I hate to make 2020 the year I keep agreeing with Watson, but I do.  What a horrendous follow up to the stellar Wonder Woman.  They pretty much lost me from the start.  (Spoiler-y from here out if you care.)  The mall sequence was too cartoon-y and corny.  Max Lord was an awful villain.  Most won’t agree, but I’m not a big Kristen Wiig fan.  When they first introduced the wishing stone I thought, “Dear God, that’s not going to be the driving device of this movie is it?”  Narrator: It was.  The way they brought Steve back.  The “oh look, I can do magic now for some reason and turn this jet invisible!”  I’ll cut them some slack with the flying thing as she does so in many different incarnations (though I don’t think she flies in either Batsoup or Justice League)…but using the lasso to propel herself by grabbing clouds?  Or even better, lightening!  Just, ugh.

Ryan says: We had fun watching this as a family, even Sara enjoyed it. The original is still far better, but I don’t see all the hatred for this. Except for the body rape thing.

Soul

Tom says:  Soul isn’t the finest Pixar movie ever made, but it was still a beautifully told animated feature, and that’s more than enough for me.

Watson says:  Wow. Just wow! I put Soul up there with TS3 and Inside Out. Maybe above them! It’s animation was the best Pixar has ever done. It had a ton of… soul. Pun intended but there’s no better way to capture it. Jamie Fox’s performance was on par with Ellen’s Dory as the all time Pixar champ.

Jimmy says:  Did I just say 2020 was the year I agree with Watson?  Well, not anymore!  Soul was fine, but it felt too much like a rehash and/or outtakes from Inside Out.

Ryan says: I’ll mess with the 2020 spirits by agreeing with Jimmy here. This was fine.

Tenet

Tom says:  Yeah, I refuse to watch this until it hits a streaming service I subscribe to.  Nolan’s insistence on this going to theaters this year during a pandemic rubbed me and a lot of other people the wrong way.  I get that he makes movies to be seen in movie theaters.  He wasn’t even wrong when he publicly and loudly complained about WB’s decision to simultaneously release movies to theaters and HBO Max in 2021 without consulting the other creative types, and I will certainly go see his next one in the multiplex once the pandemic is over.  But he came across as particularly tone deaf over this one, so Tenet isn’t getting any of my hard-earned dollars.

Ryan says: #FuckNolan

Watson says: Tom and Ryan correctly note that Nolan was a first rate dick and was tone deaf even in his defense of the theater distributors.  But that aside, this movie was fucking awesome.  It is very complex, and I get why it might not be for B-level intellects, but I dug it.

Jimmy says: I was going to comment on Nolan losing fans with this handling of the release of Tenet during the pandemic, but other have already covered that.  I didn’t dislike Tenet, does that mean by default that I liked it?  I’m not sure.  There’s no doubt it was well made but it just felt like Nolan trying to be too smart for his own good.  The Watson’s of the world will praise it and look down on the rest of us, but we’re content with Ryan’s sentiment.

Bill and Ted Face the Music

Tom says:  You know, I’ve never been a huge Bill and Ted fan, and yet, for some reason this was the one movie I shelled out $20 to see at home rather than at least wait until the price came down, and I didn’t regret it for a second.  Sure, Bill and Ted’s dimwitted daughters didn’t quite work, but the movie was fun, and both Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter slid back into their old roles like they never left.  It wasn’t great, but it sure was a lot of fun.

Watson says: This was passable entertainment and worth the $20 even though my kids didn’t watch it.  I love that they really pushed the day and date envelope…and not just because it won me a longtime bet with Ryan.

Ryan says: Fun fact—the original title was Bill & Ted Are Barely In This Movie.

The Witches

Tom says:  Well, Anne Hathaway looked like she had fun.  That’s about all I can say in this movie’s favor, and it isn’t much.  We didn’t need a remake of this story.

Watson says: I only watched this because it was set in both Coastal Alabama (my birthplace) and Demopolis, Alabama (a town I spent a lot of time near in my childhood).  I was not very good… much like Alabama…

 

Scoob!

Tom says:  There were one or two good moments here, but it was a fairly by-the-numbers animated movie.

Ryan says: Never thought I’d see a Scooby Doo movie drop an F bomb!

Watson says: That joke didn’t deserve multiple entries, Ryan…

Narrator: It did.

The Rhythm Section

Tom says:  Well, I remember seeing it… and that’s about it.

Watson says: It wasn’t great, but it was fine for a January action flick. One of those odd movies near the bottom, but you didn’t mind watching…

Jimmy says:  Well, the Ms. liked it.  I didn’t care much for it.

The Gentlemen

Tom says:  This was Guy Ritchie going back to his roots, something along the lines of his breakout hits Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.  It wasn’t quite on the level of those two, but it was a bright spot to the usual dull January.

Watson says: This one keeps climbing my rankings to the point that it will likely wind up in my Top 10.  Not usually a Ritchie fan, but this one was much more straightforward caper than his earlier works…

Ryan says: Total blast. Makes me long for the days of my pot empire in England.

The Outpost

Tom says:  The first half of the movie is there to set up the second half, an exciting battle scene that looked to be set in real time.  Probably one of the better war movies of the past few years.

Watson says: I agree with Tom.  This was a very compelling war movie.  Not sure why this is getting ZERO Oscar buzz in a weird year…

Hamilton

Tom says:  There were more than a few unexpected surprises out this year.  Like, Hamilton!  I finally got to see Hamilton!  I got to see if it was worth all the nonstop hype the likes of Ryan, Watson, and the Newmans have been going on and one about, with shots and rap battles as cabinet meetings and King George’s literal spitting out of verse!

It was fine.

OK, in all seriousness, I don’t see much musical theater and it may or may not be my thing, but I mostly sat there wishing I could have seen it live instead of just on my TV.

I’ve still seen more of Hamilton than that Canadian guy Jimmy Impossible.

Watson says: One of the many gifts Disney+ gave us…and this one came along just at the right time as nerves were fraying with the shutdown.  What an amazing all time piece of art.  Fuck Tom.

Jimmy says:  When it opened on Disney+, the Ms. and I watched up until the intermission.  We haven’t watched the rest…

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Tom says:  An Aaron Sorkin courtroom drama?  Based on real events that were probably more timely than they should be?  A fantastic cast?  Sasha Baron Cohen stealing every scene as Abby Hoffman?  Look, just go find this one.

Watson says: Just an amazing film.  Classic Sorkin.  The cast takes his beautiful words and brings it home.

Palm Springs

Tom says:  Andy Sandberg did his take on Groundhog Day as he and Cristin Milioti are stuck attending the same wedding over and over again with no hope of moving on.  It’s funny, clever, and even at times touching whenever J.K. Simmons talks about the meaning of life.

Ryan says: This one took us all by surprise–a great new take on the time-repeat genre on Hulu?! Lots of fun.

Watson says: Ryan stole my take! An A-movie we didn’t know about popping up on Hulu???

The Old Guard

Tom says:  Charlize Theron knows her action chops, but this movie had a lot more going on than just a bunch of immortal soldiers Not Dying.  There’s a lot here about how being immortal is more a curse than a blessing, along with some genuinely romantic stuff involving two men in the group who’ve been a couple for centuries.  Factor in that Greg Rucka, author of the graphic novel this movie was based on, wrote the screenplay and you have a solid action movie with more going on under the surface.

Watson says: A fun start to a franchise.  I love Charlise, so happy she landed after failing with the underrated Atomic Blonde.

Jimmy says:  Man, this kinda came out of nowhere and hit all the right notes during some dire pandemic times.  I really need to read the comic series this was based on and look forward to The Old Guard 2: The OIder Guard.

Ryan says: Fuck Cousin Dudley.

Mank

Tom says:  Gary Oldman really carried this movie, but it seemed a bit drab considering it was directed by David Fincher.

Watson says:  I loved Oldman, and appreciated the film, but it was a little slow in the middle.

Enola Holmes

Tom says:  A fun and charming mystery flick with Millie Bobby Brown working to both solve a mystery involving her missing mother while also staying one step ahead of her two brothers since Mycroft wants to put her in a boarding school and Sherlock…well, he’s another story altogether.  I’ll gladly watch more of this if someone makes another one.

Ryan says: This is so good it should be a series.  I want 10 hours of this, not 2.

Watson says: It will be a series…of films.  And it should.  Milly Bobby Brown really carried this film on her charisma.  A future superstar.  Ryan is shit…

Narrator: He isn’t.

Jimmy says:  It was fine, but it doesn’t seem that I liked it as much as the others.  Maybe I should give it another shot.  I was pretty sleepy…

Da Five Bloods

Tom says:  This was basically Spike Lee’s take on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  It was fine, trying to say something about the Vietnam War and what it meant for African Americans and with a good supporting turn from Chadwick Boseman, but it also felt a bit long at times.

Watson says: My classic criticism of Lee stands:  He over directs every movie.  I like his stories, but I can always see his direction hitting me in the face.  The part of directing he DOES excel is getting great performances (a big part of directing, I grant you).  That is definitely true here.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Tom says:  Will Ferrell is hit or miss, and it often depends on whether or not whoever is directing him knows when to end a joke and whether or not he has good comedic chemistry with whoever his onscreen partner is.  Fortunately for this movie, the director did, and Rachel McAdams really works well as the two are a pair of Icelandic pop singers that somehow despite questionable talent make it to the big annual European singing contest.  It’s not Ferrell’s best work, but it is far from his worst.

Ryan says: This movie is amazing.  Not only has the soundtrack entered into my frequently played list, but my family is actually addicted to REAL Eurovision videos and competitions.  We’re making plans to go to the real thing when the world opens!

Watson says: No surprise Ryan likes a musical, but he happens to be right despite his stalkery fanaticism.  This is a very fun movie.

Hubie Halloween

Watson says: This could have been a fun Sandler movie but he made it a shit Sandler movie…

Jimmy says:  I’m probably the biggest Sandler fan of this bunch, but this was just dreadful.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Tom says:  I don’t think anyone was expecting this one, which may sort of be the point of any Borat story, but this movie made headlines before it even came out thanks to one of Borat’s unwilling co-star’s actions.  However, the movie actually had something of a plot and a character arc, and actress Maria Bakalova really holds her own as Borat’s daughter Tutar.

Watson says: I struggled with how to grade this one. It was brilliantly effective but the embarrassment humor had me counting the minutes until it was over. Sacha had a hell of a year.

TV

Television shows, for the most part, did more or less come out on time.  Sure, some had some pandemic-related shortened seasons, but we still got something from a lot of them.

Star Trek Discovery/Picard

Tom says:  I never got much past the first half of the pilot CBS aired for Discovery, but Ryan swears by it.  However, I did dig Star Trek: Picard.  Featuring an older Picard whose past mistakes are coming back to haunt him, it was a fine showcase for Sir Patrick Stewart.

Oh, and Lower Decks was actually pretty good, too.

Ryan says: Star Trek Discovery is the best Star Trek ever made.  Every season has been amazing.  This latest one is both the best core Trek story and the most innovative Trek story ever.

Jimmy says:  Ryan thinks Discovery is the best Trek ever and Picard was mediocre.  I’m usually the polar opposite of Ryan on all things, so that sounds about right.

Avenue 5

Tom says:  I watched the first few episodes of this HBO space-based comedy of errors.  It wasn’t bad.  Then I missed an episode or two, realized I didn’t really care that much, and that was that.

The Good Place

Tom says:  It isn’t often that a good TV show can stick the landing, but The Good Place managed to do in a completely satisfying and feel-good manner considering it was about death.

Watson says: Stuck the landing with the heart that defined the whole run…

Jimmy says:  No, you’re crying at the finale!

Ryan says: The saddest thing is how each year Good Place lost Emmy awards to some other hot show.  This deserves more love than it got, awards-wise.

Glow

Watson says: Season 4 never happened, and sadly it never will…

Dead to Me

Watson says: I was all talk.  I didn’t watch Season 2…

Jimmy says:  I did.  Not as good as season 1, and quickly getting into the realm of “really?  Dexter has worked on the police force for 6 years and no one has figured out he’s the one chopping up bodies?”

Doom Patrol

Tom says:  Easily the best live action show to come off DC Universe (and now on HBO Max), Doom Patrol is about superheroes trying more to save themselves and then accidentally saving the world around them as they try to get past their own sad and miserable lives.  It’s goofy, weird, bizarre, often funny, and the kind of show where a crossdressing street and a doomsayer cockroach aren’t even the oddest things the show has put out.  True, the season was cut short by the pandemic, but it actually ended pretty well all things being equal.

 

HBO Max

Tom says:  Let me start by acknowledging that HBO Max has a lot of problems.  I couldn’t initially watch it directly through my Roku, and WB’s business-based decision to release next year’s slate of movies simultaneously to HBO Max was an at-best poorly thought out call to make.  I acknowledge all of that.  However, the interface isn’t that different from HBO’s old one but with just a different color scheme, so I don’t get why that’s a problem, and for a movie lover, it gives me Turner Classic Movies, HBO’s library, the Criterion Collection, Studio Ghibli, and even BBC and Looney Toons.  For the content alone, I am very satisfied with what they have.  Since I am the guy who basically believes that WB is the closest Disney has to competition right now, having something akin to Disney+ for an older audience just strikes me as a good thing.

Watson says: It is giving us Wonder Woman 1984 this year, and tons on features next year.  Incomplete for now (other than South Park, which I had on Hulu before), but wait until 2021!  I converted my gameroom into a home theater based largely on this development…

Jimmy says:  HBO Max is not available in Canada, but we do have an equivalent which airs the first run shows…but apparently not day and date movies like WW84, which instead they decided to charge us $29.99 for.  #fuckhobmax.

Ryan says: Jimmy’s problem is he’s spelling it wrong.  Great content from a premium brand. Undoing was amazing. Flight Attendant was fantastic. And it gave us three seasons of the Great Pottery Throw Down!!

Arrowverse

Tom says:  The CW’s somewhat low budget take on the Crisis on Infinite Earths was never going to be as big as it looked like it was going to be.  A few of the shows had seasons cut short by the pandemic, and it somewhat showed.  Plus, we’ll be seeing the end of both Black Lightning and Supergirl with the upcoming seasons, and that’s not getting into whatever happened with Batwoman.  That said, Arrow itself ended well, the new Superman and Lois series looks promising, and the quality of what they do is, if nothing else, consistent.  Just keep Legends of Tomorrow fun and that’s about all I ask for.

Jimmy says:  I started watching Flash years ago as people kept raving about it.  I probably got through a half dozen episodes and never got back to it for some reason.  But I did watch Crisis, and maybe now I know why.  I know everything can’t have MCU level budgets, but these shows are like bad fan fiction.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Tom says:  You know what?  I probably should finish this show sometime.  It was much better than I would have thought it was, and I am obviously not the target audience.

Transformers: War for Cybertron

Tom says:  I watched, like, one episode of this, saw Bumblebee complain he was a neutral party in the war over and over, some questionable leadership moves among the Autobots, and a whole host of other things with blocky CG animation and just decided that one was enough.

Locke & Key

Tom says:  Not a bad adaptation of Joe Hill’s comic series.  A bit too much high school drama at times, but not as bad as, say, Runaways, so I’ll check out season two when it drops.  Plus, it’s already been renewed for a third season, so someone at Netflix likes what he sees.

The Boys

Tom says:  While it’s not the most faithful adaptations in terms of plot, this series really is faithful in terms of themes, and is possibly making some of Garth Ennis’s less developed characters a lot more three dimensional.  What does it say when a show becomes appointment television for noted TV hater Watson?

Watson says: I watched all of Season two in the correct order.  Thank goodness because S2 was better than even S1 (once I watched the first seven episodes)…

Lovecraft Country

Watson says: Excellent anthology type series with consistent characters and storyline. It missed all time greatness with a few issues throughout the season and it didn’t quite stick the landing.

Tom says:  I’ve only seen one episode as of this typing, but I have been waiting for this show for two years now and I like what I’ve seen so far.

Ryan says: This was an amazing show yet still pales in comparison to Watchmen.

The Umbrella Academy

Tom says:  Between this and Doom Patrol, what is it about messed-up superheroes that catches my attention?  Season two played out better than one, and while star Elliot Page’s off-screen announcements may have gotten a bit more attention, Netflix did renew it for a third season, so hopefully it continues to improve.

Jimmy says:  I didn’t find season 2 better than season 1, but it was still good and I look forward to more.  (Another comic based property that I need to try to make time to read the source material for…)

Westworld

Tom says:  You know, every time I watch Westworld, I think this is some high concept, high quality stuff, and I somehow never really know what’s going on.  Maybe it works better if you binge it instead of hitting it up every week.  I don’t know.  I skipped it this year.

Vikings

Tom says:  Speaking as someone who generally likes Vikings for what it is (a low budget version of Game of Thrones without the dragons), what can I say aside from the fact that, predictably, the History Channel managed to stretch it well past its breaking point.  This was not a show designed for 20 episode seasons.  Ten is good.  Factor in as well that multiple time jumps mean few if any of the original characters are still around, and the ones left don’t have the charisma of the old ones, and well, I will finish it when the final episodes drop (first to Amazon Prime before the end of the year and then to History around March), but I’ll somewhat wonder what the point is.

Watson says: I didn’t watch it, but that dude in the picture reminds me of Vince McMahon.  That is my contribution to this entry…

What We Do in the Shadows

Tom says:  I’ll admit it:  when the pandemic started and many people started to stay home, I kinda needed something like What We Do in the Shadows.  Those nutty vampires living in Staten Island were welcome visitors to my TV once a week.  Plus, we got some more good guest stars, but will anyone top Mark Hamill as a vampire elder looking to reclaim a debt?

The Mandalorian

Tom says:  The Mandalorian may not be all that deep, but neither is Star Wars most of the time.  This show does manage to capture the spirit of the old movies, and it’s often quite exciting week in and week out.

Watson says: I leaned in.  Even when it fully embraced the fan wank, I just freaking enjoyed it.

Jimmy says:  I’ve seen some people complain about season two not being as good as season one.  I can see that if you were more into the Lone Wolf and Cub/Gunslinger aspect of the first season, while the second was very heavy on Star Wars continuity.  I love both takes, and with pretty much everything delayed because of the pandemic, The Mandalorian has been the only real driving force behind Disney+, and has breathed new life into the Star Wars franchise.

Ryan says: That season finale is an all-time great episode. Not just for Star Wars, but for any story.

South Park Pandemic Special

Tom says:  I haven’t been into South Park for quite some time, but thanks to both Watson and my brother saying how good this was, I opted to check it out.  And…it isn’t really my thing.  Cleverly written and all with a lot of interesting meta commentary on “pandemic specials,: it just didn’t work for me.

Watson says: This was hilarious.  I really think it is time for South Park to stop being a series and just doing topical specials like this…

Queen’s Gambit

Ryan says: Best chess content since Searching for Bobby Fisher.

Watson says: I loved this and appreciate that it was only seven episodes (it could have been 5) and that it is a finite series.  Anna Taylor-Joy and this series wins ALL the emmys….

Jimmy says:  Just finished this one up.  It’s very enjoyable.  My hat’s off to them for finding so many innovative ways to film essentially 7 hours of chess games and keep the audience interested.

Ryan also says: I take back what I said about Cousin Dudley.

 

The Clone Wars

Tom says:  I haven’t gotten around to the Disney+ newer episodes for the most part, but this series demonstrated what a talented group of people can do when they get their hands on even so-so material.  The fact that The Mandalorian managed to revive interest in it is fantastic.

Rick and Morty

Tom says:  This is one of those shows that has a lot of fans, I have no real objections to, but have never really invested all that much time in.  I’ve seen a few shows.  It’s fine.  I may see more some day.

Watson says: Season 4 was the best season overall. This has entered my pantheon of favorite shows over the pandemic when I did a full rewatch…

Tiger King

Tom says:  Yes, I watched it.  Every episode.  It was a thing that happened that no one can explain, and that magic can never be replicated.  That’s probably for the best.

Watson says: This series hit Netflix at the right moment.  Joe and That Bitch Carol Baskins will forever be part of the 2020 mythos…

Jimmy says:  I never thought I would watch something like this, but no one would shut up about it, so I was compelled.  And once I did, I couldn’t look away.  It’s the train wreck that Wonder Woman 1984 only wishes it was.

Last Airbender/Legend of Korra

Tom says:  OK, this was hardly new TV, but Netflix dropped both shows this past summer, and they took off for whatever reason, even allowing folks like Jenny and myself to see something we’d missed the first time around.  And it was good.  It was very good.

Disney Gallery

Watson says: I leaned in so far with the Mandoverse, that my second favorite show of the year was the making of Season 1 series that dropped in January…

Jimmy says:  I haven’t finished this yet, but I do enjoy all the behind the scenes stuff.  Especially what they have been doing with the Volume…

Ted Lasso

Ryan says: This is the best show of 2020, as Sara told me after every episode.  I agree.

Watson says: Well if Sara says it is good… 🙂

Love is Blind

Ryan says: Before the pandemic hit, the world was transfixed by people proposing without ever meeting.  Then the pandemic hit and it became normal.

The Undoing

Ryan says: Total surprise series that everyone ended up watching and not realizing that until the last week.

Quibi

Tom says:  As impressive as some of the talent on some of the Quibi programmed was, there was no way in hell I was subscribing to something I could only watch on my phone.

Ryan says: Could this have succeeded in the pre-Covid world?  We’ll never know.

Watson says: Giggle.  Fucking Ryan…

 

Books

So, books are tricky because we don’t always know when something is coming out until we see it.  Personally, I read all the time, but this year was a lot more nonfiction, so even two books from 2020’s Year of Anticipation that I was looking forward to and even have on my Kindle didn’t get read.  What did we read this year?

Peace Talks/Battle Ground (Harry Dresden)

Tom says:  Jim Butcher gave us two Dresden Files novels in the same year, only months apart?  Not a bad deal.  They read more like two halves of a longer novel, and there were a few huge surprises in them, but I think these books work best when they combine the personal parts of Harry’s life with whatever epic adventures he’s on.  These two books basically put most of the personal stuff in the first book (with one HUGE exception) and most of the epic stuff in the second.  I found them fun, but not as much fun as I had hoped they would be.

 

Ready Player Two

Tom says:  This book kinda sucked.

Ryan says: Ready Player One is still a great book.  This is just okay.  But it was nice to revisit the RPO world in this 2020 hellscape.

Watson says: Armada and the reviews were so bad that I haven’t gotten to it yet.

A Promised Land

Tom says:  I, like, never read any politician’s memoirs, and I prefer to keep my personal political opinions off the Net as much as possible as it is.  But this man has always impressed me by the way he uses words, so while it is probably just as self-serving as any political memoir usually is, at least it’ll be well-written and self-serving.

Watson says: This is probably my next book after I finish one about monetary policy…

Gaming

I’m not a gamer, but I saw some of the other Geeks having a bit of fun talking this stuff, so here we are.

Playstation 5

Ryan says: Fuck scammers.  But the games are pretty cool.

Watson says: Giggle…

Occulus Quest 2

Watson says: My kids love it and I only got to play a little, but this is the future…

Ryan says: Fucking right it is.

Travel

Some of us did that before we couldn’t.  The rest of us didn’t.

Galaxy’s Edge

Watson says: As immersive and delightful as promised.  I was resistant to going, because I hate theme parks, but this was special….

Gabbing Geek

Tom says:  Hey, despite the pandemic, the Gabbing Geek podcast came back…which is more than you can say about my own that got put on hold for a variety of different factors, many of them pandemic-related.  But that’s fine.  I have my own site and here to spew all the opinions hardly anyone actually reads.

Watson says: Watson rules!

Jimmy says:  Despite the pandemic putting a damper on much of our geeking, if you’ve read this far you can see that we still had lots to keep us entertained.  Hopefully with things taking a turn more towards normal in 2021 and about 80 MCU and Star Wars shows coming down the pipe, the geek outlook is strong.

Narrator: It is.

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