Friday, July 14, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #66: Uncle Howee


Season: 3
Episode: 26
Original Airdate: December 21, 2013 
Director: Ken Friss
Writer(s): Rick Drew

Ladies and gentlemen! We are at the final episode of season three! Woo hoo! So without further ado, let's dive right in! 

Jared is stuck babysitting his younger sister, Cynthia, who's been watching The Uncle Howee Show, a kids' show hosted by a loud, energetic man, featuring a puppet rabbit named Loomis, nonstop -- and learns a hard lesson in caring for his sibling when Uncle Howee and Loomis begin talking to Cynthia and plotting their escape from the television.

One of the things I liked about the episode was the balance of details. There's enough information to allow the audience to understand what's going on but there's also enough mystery to allow the audience to come to their own conclusion about how Cynthia was able to call upon Uncle Howee. For me, I have thought of two possibilities. The first is that Cynthia has an ability similar to Danny from The Shining where they can call upon another person with the same ability for help. The second is that this is all a fantasy in Cynthia's head that allows her to cope with her bully of a brother.

Another thing I liked about this episode was how they handled an unlikable character. Unlike in an episode like Bad Egg, this is a character who is intentionally unlikable and they really go out of their way to show how much of a jerk Jared is. As somebody who has experienced something similar what Cynthia went through, I also think this is a pretty realistic portrayal of sibling abuse. Because of this, the scenes where Jared is getting his comeuppance by being tormented by Uncle Howee are very effective. 

But by far the best part of this episode has to be Tom Kenny as Uncle Howee. Oh my god, you couldn't have asked for better casting! He's kind of like Yzma and Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove in the sense that every second he's on screen, he's having a ball. I think this is most prominent in the scenes where he's tormenting Jared in a goofy and over the top way, such as when he imitates a cop answering the phone when Jared tries to call the police. Hell, even his bunny pal Lumis (who is voiced by Tom Kenny if my information is correct) is great because his Ed Wynn impression is solid, as it comes really close to sounding like the actual guy. Despite this, he can still pull off the parts where he has to be unsettling in different ways. 

I think my only major complaint with this episode is Jared's acting. This isn't the worst acting I've seen but it definitely needs some work. I think the problem here is with the delivery of the lines. I understand that he's supposed to be this impatient deadpan jerkward kind of character but it falls flat because most of the time, he seems a little too deadpan and there are even parts where the inflections are rather odd. In all honesty, I think the episode more than makes up for this but I still felt like it was something I needed to point out. 

Overall, Uncle Howee is an imperfect yet fantastic episode and it was certainly one hell of a way to wrap up the season! If I were to make a Top 13 Best Haunting Hour Episodes list, this would definitely be somewhere in the top five!

Overall Grade: A

Well ladies and gentlemen, I've done it! I've not only reviewed every episode of season three but I've also reviewed about 75% of the entire series and I think that certainly calls for a celebration. I won't give away too much about the next season but let's just say that it's a lot shorter in comparison.

Overall Season Grade: 

Studs: 22/26

In-Betweeners: 4/26

Duds: 1/26 (This is for the original ending of Spaceman, which got an overall grade of D-.) 

While this season had more In-Betweeners and Duds compared to the last season, I still think season three was rather solid, mostly because the episodes that were good were extremely good and it really felt like they kicked it up a notch in terms of quality. So until next time folks, this has been Azu signing off!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #65: Toy Train


Season: 3
Episode: 25
Original Airdate: December 14, 2013 
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr.

Well guys I'm almost there. Just one more episode left after this one and I'll be done with season three! 

While cleaning out the attic with his father, Logan finds a scale model toy train set that brings to life an old train and a switchman who died because of a mistake Logan's father made years ago.

One of the things I liked about the episode was Logan's father. While he is distant throughout the episode, he actually has an understandable reason as to why he's like this. You see, when he was a kid, a switchman came and saved his life but died in the process. Because of this, he feels guilty about the incident and claims responsibility for killing the switchman. Towards the end of the episode, the switchman's ghost confronts him. He wants Logan's father to forgive himself, as the switchman died saving him, and in his guilt, he buried the switchman figure. Logan's father replaces the figure, and the switch man saves Logan by switching the train track. Personally, I think he's a far more likable character than Dr. Douchebag (Jason's father) from Bad Egg. I think the main reason for this is because he seems to have quite a bit of depth to his character and I felt like this made it easier for me to sympathize with him. 

Another thing I liked about the episode was Henry. Now you could argue that he makes the twist a bit more predictable and that he didn't really need to be there. However, I didn't really mind this character all that much because he does have a few cute moments and his interactions with Logan were actually enjoyable. Not only that but the actor they got to play him did a great job. It's a bit hard for me to explain but basically, the actor makes this character feel authentic in the sense that he seems to act like a real little kid as opposed to a one liner spewing machine like Michelle from Full House. 

Overall, despite its flaws, Toy Train is a much better episode than Bad Egg. It may not be as big of a tearjerker as The Perfect Brother but I still think it's worth checking out.

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, June 16, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #64: Bad Egg




Season: 3
Episode: 24
Original Airdate: December 7, 2013 
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Erik Patterson, Jessica Scott 

So recently, Adam West had passed away. This was the guy who put Batman on the map with the 1960's Batman TV series. He was also famous for his role as the mayor in Family Guy and his role as Catman from The Fairly Odd Parents. One of the characters I distinctly remember him playing was The Galloping Gazelle in the Goosebumps TV episode titled "Attack of The Mutant". Also, I only have two more episodes of this season left to review. 

An irresponsible boy named Jason is only one screw-up away from being shipped off to military school as per his strict father and must prove himself responsible when assigned to care for an egg as part of a school project. Trouble is, the eggs donated to the school are rejects from a biochemistry lab harboring an ostrich-like monster that is not fit to live among humans, and now Jason must keep his father from knowing about his latest mistake while keeping the monster away from two government agents posing as pest control workers who want the monster back.

One of the things I liked about the episode was Jason. While he does start off as a bit of a goofball by making jokes about the egg assignment, he starts to take it more seriously and even forms a strong bond with the creature that was inside of the egg, which kind of tugged at my heart strings a bit. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was the creature named Timmy. Throughout the episode, you only see brief glimpses of it until the very end of the episode and when you actually get a good look at the monster, its design has a great balance between cute and ugly. Not only that but its has a bit of a personality that shares some traits with Jason's personality such as having a hatred for Jason's father, as evidenced by the scene where he drops a paint can on his head. 

Unfortunately, one of the major problems I have with this episode is Jason's father, who I will be referring to as Dr. Douchebag from this point forward. So if you couldn't tell already, my problem with this character is that he's way too unlikable. I understand that he's a strict father but Dr. Douchebag seems to flat out hate his son and treats him as if he were a mistake. Hell, even when Jason tries to take the assignment seriously, he doesn't seem to praise his son for it and instead says something along the lines of, "Wow, looks like you haven't screwed things up for once," in a cold yet aggressive manner. To add insult to injury, when Jason tries to admit that he screwed up by telling him that he broke the egg, Dr. Douchebag just ignores that and tells his son that he's going to military school. 

Based on this description, Dr. Douchebag seems to be an abusive parent, which might've worked and made a bit more sense like in My Robot, if he were intended to be a villain. But as far as I can tell, he's not because the actual villains of the episode are two government agents posing as pest control workers trying to get the monster back. What's funny about this is that the villains are portrayed more sympathetically than Dr. Douchebag because all they want to do is catch a potentially dangerous creature and keep it out of human society in order to prevent someone from getting hurt. Sure, they can be creepy when going about it at times, but from what I saw, they weren't being abusive towards any one and their struggle is played out like a more subdued version of a Roadrunner cartoon. Screenwriting 101: If a character who isn't intended to be a villain is more villainous than the actual villains, you dun fucked up.

Overall, Bad Egg is an episode that I feel really bad for because it has likable main characters such as Jason and Timmy, yet has an extremely unlikable character like Dr. Douchebag that really drags down the quality of the episode for me. If Dr. Douchebag was made more likeable or taken out of the episode altogether, I think this would've been an extremely solid episode. But as is, it's not horrible but it's not as great as it could've been. 

Overall Grade: C

Friday, June 2, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #63: My Robot


Season: 3
Episode: 23
Original Airdate: November 30, 2013 
Director: James Head 
Writer(s): Melody Fox

So from what I understand, I'm halfway through the home stretch of season three, as I only have three more episodes of this season to review. And heeeeere's another one! 

Phillip is a science nerd with a secret: he has a robot that he ordered online and programmed himself, and it originally did anything Phillip asked, but the robot gradually overpowers Phillip's programming and is now doing what is "best" for Phillip, forcing him to do things like exercise and eat tasteless nutrient food. Phillip couldn't return the robot to the factory and the robot has actually scared his parents away, so he begs for his friend Tim's help in destroying it. They trick the two school bullies into helping, and while they do shut down the robot. 

One of the things I liked about this episode was Phillip, specifically the direction they take with his character. At first, he seems like the most stereotypical nerd possible (minus a Steve Urkel esque voice). However, as the episode progresses, there are implications that Phillip might've forcibly become this way due to the robot's overbearing nature. This add an interesting layer to Phillip's character as it not only shows how abusive the robot can be but it also makes the robot itself seem more intimidating. 

Another thing I liked was the robot. While its design and voice are a bit campy, it doesn't do much to take away from how horrifying it actually is. Most of what makes it horrifying is that it's so overbearing, that it seems like it's abusing Phillip. To make matters worse, Phillip had virtually no way to get rid of this thing and for a long time, he was basically left alone with it. The factory it came from wouldn't take it back and his actual parents had been scared away by it. To me, this robot is a symbol of overbearing parenting and the episode really does its best to show the consequences that this style of parenting can have on a child. 

Much like Coat Rack Cowboy, the one thing I'm split on is the ending. Without giving too much away, Phillip betrays Tim when the robot gets reset. On the one hand, the ending goes in a direction that I was not at all anticipating, which I really appreciate. On the other hand, it puts a dent in Phillip's likability and seems unfair to Tim as he stood up for Phillip against some stock bullies (who get their comeuppance via the robot) and helped him with his robot problem.

Overall, My Robot was a very enjoyable episode that took a couple of unexpected and interesting turns. Although it can be a bit campy at times, it still does a great job of dishing out the horror.

Overall Grade: A

Friday, May 19, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #62: Dead Bodies

Season: 3
Episode: 22
Original Airdate: November 23, 2013 
Director: Jason Furukawa
Writer(s): Jed Elinoff, Scott Thomas

So on Monday, I had turned nineteen years old. That means I'm one year away from being legally allowed to drink... in Japan. Also, I have four more episodes left of season three. 

In this sequel to season one's "The Dead Body," Jake Skinner (who is now human after tricking Will into dying in 1961) finds his time on Earth running out when a Grim Reaper-esque wraith grabs his arm and causes his skin to rot, so Jake plans to trick Anna into sacrificing her life so Jake can keep living -- and only Will's ghost can stop him.

One of the major improvements that this episode makes from The Dead Body episode is that the bullies, Trevor and Chang, are absent, aside from being mentioned briefly. In my review of The Dead Body, I thought that Trevor and Chang were nothing more than one dimensional bullies and were also the weakest part of that episode. Because of this, I feel like omitting these characters was a smart move and really strengthened the episode for me. 

The other thing I liked about this episode was the character development. The first major piece of character development is from Anna. In this episode, she's trying to study for her SATs, which are extremely important if she wants to get into college. However, she gets distracted by Jake who says that she'll have plenty of time to take tests. She tries to resist but she eventually gives in. I think this makes her seem more like a real person because there are times when we know we need to do something important but we get distracted by certain things, which can sometimes be difficult to ignore or resist. The other major piece of character development is from Will. Throughout the episode, Will is trying to get Anna's attention and warn her about Jake, though she doesn't seem to notice him, much to his dismay. Towards the end of the episode, Will musters up all the courage he can and uses his ghost powers to fight Jake and save Anna from becoming another victim of Jake's trickery. Because of this kind deed, he is rewarded by becoming human again while Jake is sent to hell, presumably by the wraith. 

One of the weaker parts of this episode was the effects for the wraith. In this episode, the wraith shows up twice and when they're shown on screen, it's clear that CGI was used. Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against CGI itself. But the problem here is that the CGI looks like something out of those live action Scooby Doo movies, which aren't all that great looking. This is show that has had great special effects in the past and even when the effects didn't look all that great (see The Golem Part 2), they still worked to the episode's advantage. However, the CGI in this episode does not do that and it just sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Overall, Dead Bodies is a great follow up despite one or two setbacks. 

Overall Grade: B+

Friday, May 5, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #61: Long Live Rock and Roll

 
 
 
Season: 3
Episode: 21
Original Airdate: November 16, 2013
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Brandon Auman 

Hello there ladies and gentlemen and welcome to my review of the twenty first episode of season three. For those who don't know, season three has about twenty six episodes, making it the longest season in the series. Since I'm currently reviewing the twenty first episode, I only have about five more episodes to go before I'm finished with this season. In other words, we are in the home stretch! 

Holden is a boy with a garage band, but no musical talent when it comes to playing lead guitar. So when a former, Keith Richards-esque rock star-turned-music shop owner known as Sir Maestro offers him a new guitar seemingly for free, Holden jumps at the chance, only to learn that Sir Maestro wants more than cash for payment and Holden's friends have been tempted with similar offers. 

One of the things I liked about the episode is Sir Maestro. I'm not sure if I used this comparison already but he's kind of like the villain from Something Wicked This Way Comes. He's charismatic but not to a point where he can't be creepy. Not only that but his design is also great. I think it really fits and even enhances the whole rock star motif he's aiming for. 

Another thing I liked about this episode was the climax. So in the climax, Holden challenges Sir Maestro to a "rock-off" in order to save his friends from Maestro's control. There are quite a few things about this climax that I really liked. First off, Holden gets a nice bit of character development. In the beginning of the episode, Holden's guitar skills are less than great and blames his guitar. However, when he's forced to use his original guitar in the rock off, his skills have clearly improved as he doesn't seem to make a mistake when playing. Second, the climax kind of reminded me of the rock off from the Tenacious D movie, which I think they might've been referencing or paying homage to in their own way. 

Unfortunately, there is one problem I have with the episode. So there's a scene where Sir Maestro sneaks into Holden's room and explains that he wants his soul once he gets his bandmate's souls. Now this doesn't seem too bad but the problem with this scene is that it kind of screws up the pacing and I feel like they could've conveyed this information in a much more time efficient way. 

Overall, Long Live Rock and Roll is an episode that does a good job balancing the creepiness with the fun. It's a rather solid episode that's worth checking out. 

Overall Grade: B+

Friday, April 21, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #60: Coat Rack Cowboy

 
Season: 3
Episode: 20
Original Airdate: November 9, 2013
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Jack Monaco

A long time ago, I remember watching this episode for the first time. Back then, my thoughts on the episode could be summed up as, "Not bad but not very engaging." Well, now that I've made it to this episode in my Every Haunting Hour Ever marathon, I might as well give it a second chance. 

Ethan and his older brother, Brett, are sent back to the days of the Old West, where an outlaw named John "Mad Dog" McCoy (who was hanged for his crimes on the tree in Ethan's yard) challenges him to a final showdown at high noon after learning that his resting place has been cut down and turned into a coat rack.

One of the things I liked about this episode was the setting. So this episode mostly takes place in the wild west. With TV shows that were made in this decade, including The Haunting Hour, you don't really see this type of setting too often. Because of this, it's neat to see. Not only that, but the music and visuals do a good job of engulfing the viewer into this type of environment. 

The other thing I enjoyed about the episode was the villain. Although there are times where his acting can get a bit hammy, he still manages to come off as intimidating. I think this comes from how he talks to Ethan and Brett in a very threatening manner and the fact that he shoots his gun to silence them when they're bickering without a second thought. 

There's one part of the episode that I'm on the fence about however. Towards the end, Ethan starts telling Mad Dog about how his decision to shoot the sheriff has had numerous consequences on various people (particularly the sheriff's children) and even the town itself. At first, Mad Dog shrugs it off. But then as Ethan gives out more details, the outlaw's guilt grows and grows and eventually gets to a point where it ends up killing him. After Mad Dog is slain, Ethan tells Brett that the details he shared with Mad Dog were false. On the one hand, it kind of feels like a cop out because it seems like the writers were afraid to have either character shoot a person. But on the other hand, the whole made up backstory thing does tie into Ethan's love of storytelling. 

Overall, Coat Rack Cowboy was a lot better than I remember, although it isn't without its flaws. Even if you aren't into wild west stories, I still think this a good episode to check out.

Overall Grade: B-

Friday, April 7, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #59: Lovecraft's Woods

 
 
Season: 3
Episode: 19
Original Airdate: November 2, 2013
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Brandon Auman

The plot of today's episode goes a little something like this. A man tells his psychiatrist of the struggles that led to his downfall, beginning at his great-uncle's bedside, where he receives a key to a locked collection of his papers. The papers reveal a lifelong obsession with an underwater deity, Cthulhu, around which a cult has formed. Nah just kidding! Here's the actual plot. 

When looking for a shortcut to get to a party, three friends, Margaret, Nickolas and Erica, take a short-cut through the Lovecraft's Woods, a strange patch of woods just as evil as its namesake.

So from what I understand, this episode has nothing to do with H.P Lovecraft. But is it still a good episode regardless? Well, let's find out. 

Now one of the things I liked about the episode is the suspense. While it does get off to a bit of a slow start, the episode becomes extremely suspenseful once the "ghoul" character is introduced and it barely lets up for the rest of the episode. I'm not going to lie, this has got to be one of the most suspenseful episodes I've seen so far. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was the twist. Now early on, part of the twist is revealed once you get a good look at the ghoul's face (i.e Erika is the ghoul.) However, the rest of the twist is kept a mystery until the very end and honestly, it not only through me for a loop but it also made sense given what happens to the characters. 

The final thing that I liked about this episode is the Erica character. Now at the beginning, she acts rude towards her friends. However, as the episode progresses, you start to learn more about her and when Erica gets accidentally scratched by something in the woods, the scratch becomes worse and worse to the point where she becomes deformed. In other words, while Erica isn't a total saint, she still manages to be likeable enough to where you feel sorry for her when she has bad things happen to her. 

Overall, Lovecraft's Woods is a solid episode. While it may not be as good as Detention, there are plenty of strong elements that really make this episode enjoyable in its own right. 

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, March 24, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #58: Worry Dolls


Season: 3
Episode: 18
Original Airdate: October 26, 2013
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Nicole Dubac

Like with Poof De Fromage, this is an episode I've been wanting to talk about for quite a while. However, my thoughts on this episode are little different from my thoughts on Poof De Fromage. What do I mean by this? Well let's start the review to find out!

As a souvenir from her traveling parents, Jordanna (Katherine McNamara) receives a box of knitted dolls known as "Worry Dolls" said to magically fix people's worries -- which prove disastrous when their nanny (Gwynyth Walsh) goes missing, Jordanna's heirloom violin breaks, and Jordanna's parents (Kirsten Robek, Cameron Bancroft) quit their jobs and become obsessed with family togetherness. Jordanna eventually learns of the "Worry Dolls" effect and ends up burning them.

One of the things I liked about the episode is the story. So in this episode, we have workaholic parents, which on its own is rather cliche. However, they put a very interesting spin on it. Unlike in a lot of these stories, the parents play the cliche straight but slowly subvert it as the episode progresses. They do this by making it clear to the audience where they're coming from without seeming unlikeable. Not only that, but once they start to become too obsessed with family bonding, Jordanna and Max yearn to get out of the situation and become more appreciative of the fact that their parents work a lot.

The other thing I liked was the ending. Towards the end of the episode, the parents become obsessed with family bonding to the point where it gets very disturbing. To stop the madness, Jordanna lights a fire in the fireplace and throws the Worry Dolls right in there, effectively turning them into dust. When the dolls are burned, everything goes back to normal. That is, until the burned Worry Dolls gather around Jordanna's pillow in the dark of the night! While the whole "it's still alive" twist doesn't seem all that special, the way its planned out makes it work. From the music they play to the design of the dolls to the lighting scheme, it becomes a frightening scene and solid way to end an episode.

Overall, Worry Dolls is a surprisingly good episode that took a cliched story and put its own little spin on it.

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, March 10, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #57: Funhouse


Season: 3
Episode: 17
Original Airdate: October 19, 2013
Director: Michael Robinson
Writer(s): Erik Pattenson and Jessica Scott

So today's episode is a rather interesting one. The best way I can describe the plot is that it's a mix between Headshot and A Creature Was Stirring. But does this mean that the episode is good? Well, let's find out. 

Bitter and angry over his father abandoning his family and his mother too busy with work to care, a boy named Chad becomes addicted to visiting a traveling fun house, where he can let out his familial frustrations with sadistic glee by smashing a model replica of a family arguing at the dinner table, but the more time Chad spends at the fun house, the meaner and more addicted to the violence he becomes. 

One of the things I liked about the episode was the main character. In this episode, Chad gets quite a bit of development. In other words, we really get a sense of how he feels about the situation and how he tries to handle it. However, he isn't exactly pitch perfect. For example, after destroying a model of a family arguing in the fun house, he gradually becomes more obsessed with it to a point where he becomes extremely violent. Because of this, it was easy for me to care about him and get wrapped up in his story. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was the source of the horror. In this episode, the main source of horror is Chad's descent into madness and it's both horrifying and tragic at the same time. Not only does Chad's behavior grow uglier but he also starts to become physically deformed the more he goes into the fun house. Honestly, this was hard for me to watch because I've seen just how anger and sadness can sometimes make a situation worse that it was before from my experience living through a divorce. 

Despite this however, I have a couple of issues with this episode.

One of the problems with the episode is the pacing. At times, it can be a little too fast. Although it's nowhere near as bad as it was in Night of The Mummy, it's definitely noticeable. 

The other problem with the episode is the main character's acting. Don't get me wrong! His acting isn't anything terrible but at times, it can get a bit too hammy. Honestly, for me, it's borderline distracting. 

Overall, Funhouse is a rather solid episode and honestly, that's all I have to say about it.

Overall Grade: B+