All Things End

The past couple of weeks have been interesting as several pop-culture phenomenon have concluded all at the same time. We have seen the end of stories about a fantasy world, political satire, superheroes, and some nerds who eat together, that have captured the collective hearts and imaginations of millions of people around the world in very different ways.

Avengers Endgame movie banner

I don’t know what is left to be said about the end of the MCU “Infinity Saga” as so much media has been created speculating and then analyzing this culmination of a 22 film, 3 phase story.

The first film in this story was Iron Man in 2008. The success of this acclaimed movie heralded a new wave of superhero movies (and TV shows) that does not seem to be ebbing. It also made the seldom utilized post credit sequence an integral part to the overall story keeping audiences in their seat through all the credits no matter how long they were.

Each film that followed added a new layer building an intricate story captivating audiences and critics alike connecting characters, plot points, and moving the overall story forward. The stories were so well told and constructed that they brought in not just the avid comicbook reader but also the layman (and many a woman) who may not have previously had knowledge of the characters or the Marvel universe in general.

Because of how big the MCU has gotten Avengers Endgame could easily have been a bloated dumpster fire of nonsense but it managed to be an epic, heartfelt, satisfying close to the story that started 11 years ago.

After the grand, universe encompassing and ultimately heartbreaking film that was Avengers Infinity War, it was hard to imagine how they could possibly top that. But Marvel has continuously managed to amaze and surprise its audiences. And it wasn’t just about explosions and battles, it is about character, ensuring that the viewer connects and stays connected to the story being told.

The heartbreak from Infinity War spilled over into Endgame from the opening with Hawkeye’s family to the loss of a few beloved characters that could have easily drowned the film. Despite being weighty they injected enough humour and sweetness in the movie to keep it afloat.

Avengers Endgame wasn’t perfect however. Due to its size – characters, story, and length – it was clear that things had been cut making it a bit choppy and leaving holes in the overall story. But this was inevitable when you have an over arching story that is just so big. Trying to include all those details and side stories would have made the film substantially longer, affect the pacing, and in turn the overall audience enjoyment. There were also a few nit-picky things that kind of got to me but that is really just for the comicbook people ie: even if Captian America can wield Thor’s hammer he would NOT be able to do the lightning thing.

Overall I think Avengers Endgame was a worthy conclusion to the “Infinity Saga”. It tied up some storylines, moved the MCU into its next phase, and caused a few people to wipe a tear from their eye.

Veep Season 7 banner

This highly acclaimed political satire has been on HBO for the past 7 year pulling the mask off of and making fun of the American political system as it followed the antics of Selina Meyer and her staff as she does everything possible to become President.

At first I couldn’t get into the show. It was mean, it was crude, and it just seemed a bit too ridiculous. From the first episode it hit the ground running not really introducing characters but presenting you with them as you were dropped into their world. But as the show progressed, the characters evolved and your understanding of their relationships took form. The jokes stayed mean and crude but because of the dynamics it just got funnier.

Sadly the more I watched the show the less ridiculous the show seemed. The current state of politics in the US seemed to take notes from the show instead of the other way around. It seemed a lot less satirical and more of a true presentation of the current state of things.

The thing that sold “Veep” was the acting. The comedic timing was impeccable and the emotional shifts were seamless but that is what you get from a talented seasoned cast that includes Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, and Anna Chlumsky, who bring their best every time.

The end of the show was a lot sadder than I expected it to be but I wasn’t particularly surprised as Selina got what she wanted but in the worst way possible and it weighed on her. It was a perfectly fitting end.

The Big Bang Theory TV show Banner with all the main characters on a couch

I have gotten a lot of flack for thoroughly enjoying this show; the “lazy” sitcom about nerds and a much too pretty girl who befriends them. But I enjoyed watching a show where I didn’t have to think too much, there was no deep underlying horror, and no one gets brutally murdered. It was just easy and there is nothing wrong with liking something that’s easy.

I remember watching the show from the very beginning. I didn’t like it much at first but it was on TV and I didn’t hate it. It had some “nerd” humour, the characters were acceptable, and I enjoyed the theme song. I paid little attention and watched it only if nothing else was on. It wasn’t until “The Nerdvana Annihilation” when I started actually “watching” the show.

If you don’t know, that is the episode where Leonard buys what he thinks is a miniature of the time machine from the 1960s film The Time Machine. I just found the part where they “used” the time machine hilarious. I remember my mother asking me what was so funny as I watched them scurry around. This was before they started explaining every “nerd” joke so if you had never seen The Time Machine (1960) then you wouldn’t really get it. It was my kind of silly humour and from that point I was hooked.

The show touched on many things that I could on some level relate to which allowed me to connect with all the characters. The other thing was, they weren’t mean. They did stupid things and they sometimes hurt the people around them (emotionally) but they were never mean spirited which is something that is surprisingly hard to find in shows these days.

No the show wasn’t perfect. Like I never understood why Penny, Bernadette, and Amy could never understand the guys geeky obsessions and there insistence on trying to change that. Howard was often misogynistic but his character had a proper turn around. And yes the show is formulaic but the formula works that is why there is a formula. But I still enjoyed it.

After 12 seasons the series came to an end last Thursday in a relatively typical episode that was just a bit more heartfelt than usual and it was kind of perfect for what it was.

Whether you liked the show or not, “The Big Bang Theory” is now a part of the pop-culture lexicon. It was an immensely popular show that broke records and made people laugh.

Game of thrones season 8 poster with dragons and tag line "The end has come"

My love affair with this series started quite a bit before the show even began. I was one of the readers. It started in about 2004, I remember that because the 4th book came out in 2005 and I finished the first 3 books just in time for its release. Until that point, even though I loved the genre, I hadn’t found a book series that really captivated me. It was vast, intriguing, and a bit dirty.

I waited 6 whole years for the next book, which I slowly but hungrily devoured upon its release. Then came the promise another book and an HBO TV series. I was elated.

When the show premiered it was perfect. The casting, the writing, the direction, the overall feel. The readers were happy and so were the non-readers. But as a reader I had a little more insight to what was going on and of course where it was going and you would think that may have ruined the experience but it did not. It was also fun having knowledge that non-readers pleaded for, that could be dangled over their heads. I had friends insist that Ned wasn’t dead. I got yelled at for not warning people about the Red Wedding.

The story, as the books, weaved together an intricate web connecting a vast cast that plotted, schemed, and killed just to get to the iron throne. There hadn’t been a water cooler show like this for some time with people yelling spoiler alert as others ran away covering their ears.

But as season 5 ended, with no new book in sight, so did the knowledge of the reader. This was unknown territory for everyone. And it showed. The writing wasn’t as tight, plot points were dropped, and characters seemed different. But people kept watching and speculating.

There was a frenzy around the final season of the show. There were wild theories, constant chatter, and an excess of hype. There really was no way for the show to conclude that would make everyone happy (this is true with anything really) and it seems like they decided to make no one happy.

Characters changed in odd ways, there were huge gaps in the story, and everything hinged on battles. The battles where very impressive mind you but they seemed to just tack on stories around them. The season seemed choppy, disjointed, and kind of random. This has really affected people as apparently some are seeking therapy and signing petitions to have the season remade. Which is all kinds of ridiculous if you ask me. It may not have been the ending the show deserved but it is the ending we got, deal with it.

“Game of Thrones” was an excellent show until the end of season 5, a good show in season 6, alright in season 7, and somewhat infuriating in season 8 but I would gladly watch it again. I am also still holding out hope that the books will be written to correct the egregious atrocities of that last season. But I am not holding my breath.

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