Wondering what to do with your upcoming free time? Good thing we have some suggestions for what you should be watching, playing, reading, listening to, etc.
Lauren’s TV Pick: The Legend of Vox Machina – The pessimist in me truly believed there was no way in hell The Legend of Vox Machina could live up to my poorly restrained expectations that have been building since the Kickstarter was first announced, but if there’s one thing I should know after all these years of watching the Critical Role D&D campaigns, it’s that disappointment was never an option. Even with the herculean task of condensing 40 or so hours of stream content into 12 “half hour” animated episodes, TLoVM manages to remain faithful to the heart and story of Vox Machina vs two of the sexiest forces of evil as the first season explores the themes of vengeance, trauma, and coming into one’s own strength (fuck yes, Keyleth!) in a way that will satisfy both fans new and old. It’s no secret to Critters that Matthew Mercer (aided greatly by his best friends at the table) is god tier when it comes to storytelling and world building, but I was still gobsmacked by this finished product as moments once hindered by the scope of my imagination were further made whole by the artists, writers, actors, and every other person involved who put their heart and soul into making this. TLoVM is clearly such a labor of love, and that dedication to making this as perfect as possible succeeded countless times in giving me chills, from the yell of Grog’s “I would like to rage” leading into a fugue state of bloody mayhem, to the nightmarish flashbacks triggered by violence and gore, to seeing the desecrated Sun Tree for the first time, to someone realizing their full potential in the penultimate episode, to the tease of what’s coming in season 2… Seriously, I could ramble about this show for hours. The influences of anime and horror, the comedy that cuts through the seriousness of most moments, best bear boy Trinket… Just watch it if you haven’t already! Or if you’re like me, go ahead and watch it a 4th time.
Ben’s TV Pick: Peacemaker – James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad was my number one movie of 2021, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the genius director’s spin-off show starring John Cena’s outstanding Task Force X member often hits a similar level of quality and enjoyability. The eponymous antihero gets to show a more sympathetic side this time around, but the show and its lead character never stop delivering on the humor or action. It’s raunchy, outlandish, and matches its ridiculousness with a ton of charm, wit, and style. The supporting cast is stellar too, particularly Freddie Stroma’s insanely hilarious and hilariously insane Vigilante, Peacemaker’s self-proclaimed BFF. In fact, Vigilante might be my favorite character in the entirety of the DC Extended Universe, and his presence alone is enough to warrant my recommendation. Peacemaker’s soundtrack is also incredible, becoming the foundation of a Spotify playlist I made and have been listening to pretty much nonstop for weeks now. I know it’s early to say this, but I’m extremely confident that Peacemaker will be among my favorite shows of the year.
Ben’s TV Pick: True Detective (Season 2) – I think that the second season of True Detective got a bad rap when it first aired in 2015. It doesn’t hit the masterpiece quality of the first season, but it’s still a great mystery thriller with a stellar cast giving top-tier performances at its center. Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn, and Kelly Reilly are all just plain fabulous, and the show gets you into the headspace of these really, really messed up individuals who you end up caring about despite their obvious, and often numerous, character flaws. The story itself is also layered and complex, slowly unraveling and giving way to more than a few shocking moments. Again, season two of True Detective isn’t damn-near perfect like the first, but it has more going for it than a lot of other popular shows out there, making it deserving of a whole lot more love, damnit!
Ben’s Video Game Pick: Dead Island & Dead Island Definitive Edition – With all the hubbub surrounding the newly released Dying Light 2 – a sequel to a game that I sadly never finished – I thought I’d champion the original Dying Light’s predecessor in open-world zombie slaying once again. Dead Island takes place on a fictional tropical locale, and puts you and up to three friends in the shoes of survivors who are immune to the rapidly spreading zombie virus. Your goal is to get yourself off the undead-infested islet, and while the story isn’t anything noteworthy (although it has plenty of self-aware B-movie charm) the gameplay is strong enough that I’ve played through the entire campaign three times. While Dead Island lacks Dying Light’s parkour, it has a sillier, campier tone that I wholeheartedly love, and it is the only game I’ve played that has a weapon durability mechanic that I don’t absolutely despise. Oh, and the melee-heavy combat is tons of brain bashing, machete slashing fun, and it gets even better when you start crafting the really crazy D.I.Y deathdealers. It’s a little rough around the edges, but Dead Island and its remaster were involved in a few of my favorite co-op gaming memories, and I’m still holding out hope that the sequel will eventually see the light of day.
So what do you think about these picks? What content did we miss over the past two weeks while we were spending time with these? Be sure to leave a comment below letting us know about everything (both current and simply new to you) you’ve been consuming lately!
And while you’re here, be sure to check some of the site’s other recent content:
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