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What I’ve Been Watching: September 19, 2018 TV and Movie Review Journal

What I’ve Been Watching is a daily journal of reviews for every film, short film, TV episode/special, and web video I watched today (September 19, 2018). Posts will be published almost every day, usually in the morning or early afternoon, and will be updated throughout the day as I watch more media. I love a wide variety of content including almost every genre, medium, and type of story. This includes a lot of niche, weird, or lesser known content so you will never know what to expect in these daily journals. My goal with this post series is to find at least a few hidden gems that each reader has never heard of but will enjoy (and if you have the same unique taste in TV and film that I do, it will hopefully be a cornucopia of things for you to watch). Most titles are being watched for the first time as preparation for new list posts and other content on this blog, though occasionally I will re-watch old favorites as well.

Feel free to use the comments as an open discussion of the titles you’ve been watching, your thoughts on the content I reviewed today, and also as a place to suggest titles for me to watch (especially titles similar to the ones I enjoyed today). If you enjoy these review journals and you are interested in watching a title I reviewed, buying or renting it via the included Amazon links (or this link) is a great way to support this blog. It costs you nothing extra and a small portion of the proceeds goes to us to keep this blog running.

<- Yesterday’s What I’ve Been Watching Post


Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost (2018 Film, Animation, Directed by Doug Murphy, 77 Minutes)

I will fully admit that the Scooby-Doo series has become incredibly tropey but the last few direct-to-video films in the series have actually been pretty good (dating back to last year’s Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown). While the series still uses the same tropes and basic setup, they have been pretty willing to poke fun at themselves leading to some genuinely funny moments. I was hoping for the streak to continue with the newest release Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost (which was released last week), even though the theme wasn’t the most appealing to me (I’m not really much of a foodie and I know next to nothing about cooking). After watching it, I would say that the newest Scooby-Doo film is a bit more on the mediocre side (not quite up to the standards of the past few releases) but still worth watching.

In Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost, the gang is invited by Fred’s uncle Bobby Flay (who knew Fred was related to a famous chef?) to his new culinary resort. The resort is housed in a New England inn that dates back to the colonial days but has remained uninhabited for many years due to being haunted by the “Red Ghost.” As usual, as soon as the gang arrives the “paranormal” activity gets more and more common and the vacation turns into yet another investigation job for them. Along with the usual voice cast for modern Scooby-Doo films (Frank Welker, Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, and Matthew Lillard), Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis play themselves and Dana Snyder has a great little comic relief role as the completely inept Skip Taylor.

The biggest reason Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost is a more mediocre entry in the series is just due to a relative lack of humor. All of the recent Scooby-Doo films have had several very funny moments, while this one has just a few memorable jokes. There are still a few funny moments included but the laughs are much more limited compared to Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown or Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I’m sure part of it is my lack of interest in the theme but even if I was a foodie, I don’t think I’d be laughing that much more. Most of the humor comes from Skip Taylor’s ineptitude and Giada being knowledgeable in every area from the paranormal to “gymnastic discus throwing.” Unfortunately, Skip Taylor is a relatively minor character that really should have been in the film at least a bit more.

While the humor isn’t really quite up to par with recent Scooby-Doo films, the story is still pretty good. It includes a bit of “history” in it (George Washington even makes a brief appearance in a flashback), the ghost terrifying the inn is actually pretty spooky (it looks like something out of an anime series about demons), and they have a very creative explanation for the supernatural events for once. The reveal is pretty obvious like in most Scooby-Doo films but there is a bit of a twist to it and they do a good job of poking fun at the tropes they usually use in these scenes (with Skip having easily the joke of the film in regards to it). Of course adults are still going to be able to predict pretty much everything that happens in the film but I will say it is slightly less predictable than usual. The animation and video quality are both pretty standard for Scooby-Doo DVD releases, both are fine but nothing special. As usual, outside of a few trailers, the only bonus features included are three food-related episodes of various Scooby-Doo shows. In this case, the episodes are What’s New, Scooby-Doo? “Recipe for Disaster,” A Pup Named Scooby-Doo “Wanted: Cheddar Alive,” and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated “The Devouring.”

Overall, Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost is fine but I must say it left me a bit bored at times. It just isn’t very funny and considering that is the main goal of the franchise, I can’t give it more than an average grade. It’s still worth watching for Scooby-Doo fans but its not something you need to run out and buy or rent immediately.

Rating: 3/5 (Average)

Watch Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost: DVD, Amazon Video


Golden Time (aka Gôruden Taimu) (2014 Short Film, Animation, TV-Y, Directed by Takuya Inaba, 21 Minutes)

Golden Time is a good example of the old adage that sometimes less is more. There isn’t a ton to talk about with this short film so this is going to be a very brief review but wow, is this short gorgeous. Golden Time is a short, 21-minute animation about an old TV set (anthropomorphized into a cute dog-like creature) abandoned in a junkyard who is having a hard time dealing with not being entertaining or useful anymore. While the TV set does meet a friend in an adorable wind-up cat toy (and some other broken down appliances), his time in the dump quickly becomes even more depressing as he attempts to get a new owner.

Golden Time is rated TV-Y and 100% suitable for children. However, they aren’t really going to understand some of the underlying themes. Still, there are plenty of cute moments to keep them interested. While I think kids might enjoy it, this short film is more for adults. There is no dialogue, the animation style is very artistic, and the story is very melancholy for most of the film. It’s hard to write in-depth about a film this short but it’s a neat little idea done with great style. Just go out and watch it, I’m almost positive you’ll enjoy it. Recommended, especially for fans of artistic (and bittersweet) animation.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Recommended)

Watch Golden Time: Netflix


World of Warcraft: Looking for Group (2014 Documentary, Directed by Kern Konwiser and Kip Konwiser, 61 Minutes)

While I haven’t played the game in a few years, I used to be a big World of Warcraft player. I was never one of those people who got so addicted to it that it affected their life but I’ve certainly put a few hundred hours into the game over the years. World of Warcraft: Looking for Group is a documentary that was produced for the 10th anniversary of the game back in 2014. While it was partially produced by Blizzard Entertainment and thus isn’t super objective, it thankfully isn’t one of those “look at this awesome thing we did” or “we make the best games ever made” type of fluff documentaries. The positives of it being produced by Blizzard more than outweigh the negatives.

World of Warcraft: Looking for Group mostly focuses on the history of the game, from the early production days to the Warlords of Draenor expansion (which was still in production while this was being shot). It touches on each expansion and even includes a bit of the history of Blizzard and MMO games as well. While the history of the game is easily the main focus of the documentary, there are a few short segments here and there focusing on topics like couples who met in the game, machinima (one creator even got a job on the World of Warcraft team due to their animation), and various players’ favorite zones. One of the best things about World of Warcraft: Looking for Group is the use of old archive images, concept art, and maps (some of which never even made it into the game or changed in some way). You also get the chance to see the data centers where the game world actually exists physically (and the Global Network Operations Center which monitors the servers). All of this is very cool to see, especially if you are a fan of the game.

While the documentary is mostly serious, there are still a few funny moments here or there. For example, the one swear aired is “bleeped out” via Murloc noises. I wish there was more swearing just to continue on that little joke. The interviewees can be pretty entertaining, especially the machinima creator being shocked that the game designers were geeking out about meeting him at a convention, when he knew he should have been the one geeking out about them. Interviewees include all three founders of Blizzard (Allen Adham, Frank Pearce, and Mike Morhaime), Chris Metzen, Jeffrey Kaplan, Duncan Jones (director of the Warcraft movie), and a few celebrity World of Warcraft players like Brandon Routh and Felicia Day (for brief interview clips).

I only have a few minor complaints about the documentary. First of all, since the documentary is pre-Warlords of Draenor, it is a little outdated at this point (two expansions behind). Also, I wish they would have went into the fandom a lot more. The documentary is quite short and I think they could have devoted thirty minutes or so to the fans (their collections, cosplay, fan art, etc.). World of Warcraft: Looking for Group is good but could have been great if it was a bit longer and spent more time on its fans. However, it is definitely still worth watching for all fans of the game (and those nostalgic for the game that don’t play it anymore). World of Warcraft: Looking for Group can be watched for free on YouTube.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Recommended)

Watch World of Warcraft: Looking for Group: YouTube


Stats:

  • Total Days Recorded: 1 (Logging started on September 19, 2018)
  • Total Titles Watched:
    • Today: 3
    • September 2018: 3
    • All-Time: 3
    • Average Per Day: 3.0 (+0.0)
  • Watch Time:
    • Today: 2:39
    • September 2018: 2:39
    • All-Time: 2:39
    • Average Per Day: 2:39 (+0.00)
  • Films Watched:
    • Today: 2
    • September 2018: 2
    • All-Time: 2
  • Film Watch Time:
    • Today: 2:18
    • September 2018: 2:18
    • All-Time: 2:18
  • Short Films Watched:
    • Today: 1
    • September 2018: 1
    • All-Time: 1
  • Short Film Watch Time:
    • Today: 0:21
    • September 2018: 0:21
    • All-Time: 0:21
  • TV Episodes and Specials Watched:
    • Today: 0
    • September 2018: 0
    • All-Time: 0
  • TV Episodes and Specials Watch Time:
    • Today: 0:00
    • September 2018: 0:00
    • All-Time: 0:00
  • TV Seasons Completed:
    • September 2018: 0
    • All-Time: 0
  • Web Series Episodes and Videos Watched:
    • Today: 0
    • September 2018: 0
    • All-Time: 0
  • Web Series Episodes and Videos Watch Time:
    • Today: 0:00
    • September 2018: 0:00
    • All-Time: 0:00

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