Troll Hunting

Even if I have a regular subscription to Netflix now, I try not to binge-watch and just pick a few enjoyable episodes/programs to relax after a long work day. The latest series that I finished is not a mainstream trending topic because, well, it’s in the children’s category. When I saw that DreamWorks and Guillermo del Toro had an animated series voiced by the late Anton Yelchin, I knew I had to watch it.

TH book

I didn’t know of the books it was based on, but Trollhunters season one is a TV series for everyone, not just kids. If you need something light-hearted and funny, then have a go at it. The pacing and foundation of the mythology takes a while. There are no limits to streaming channels, anyways. By the end of the 26 episodes, though, you’ll feel like Jim, Toby, Claire, Blinky, and AAARRRGGHH!!! is your new squad. Because of repetition, you’ll also be able to memorize Jim’s lines when he whips out his amulet thingie:

For the glory of Merlin, daylight is mine to command!


For a TV budget, the animation is very impressive. Del Toro was quoted to have been grateful to the team who really stretched the limits of imagination and went the extra mile to create something magical for the small screens. Of course, what brings the animation to life are the voices behind it and the late Anton Yelchin did a brilliant job in articulating the woes of teenage life while training to be a hero. Del Toro assures, however, that Yelchin is not going to “leave” the program despite his death because as it turns out, they have material to last until another season. Yep, they’ve just been renewed for season 2! Woohoo!

For comedic punchlines, I LOOOOVE Toby, voiced by Charlie Saxton. He’s super funny and chubby and cute, but so are Blinky, the wise and formal mentor of Jim and AAARRRGGHH!!!, Toby’s wingman and the group’s muscle guy/troll. The characters are voiced by Kelsey Grammer and Fred Tatasciore, respectively. Claire’s okay. I like the boys better.

Speaking of funny moments, the best laugh out loud moment for me was when Toby adopted a gnome and named it…


(I want their Funko Pops! AAAAAARGHHHH)

The first season ended on a cliffhanger and will be continued with 13 more episodes in the next installment. I’m now a fan and I’m even considering watching it again just for fun. I am glad I found this gem on Netflix and I can’t wait for next season!

Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker


I stumbled upon this novel of my fave fantasy TV series in a pop-up stall of an online bookstore in Eastwood, but the name of the bookstore escapes me at the moment. I think I got this for only 100 pesos because it’s yellow and old but I didn’t care because it’s a rare find. At first, I thought since I have not seen any classic Who episodes that I’d be having a bit of difficulty reading this thin novella, but it turned out to be a fun and a rather quick read!

According to the, this 1986 novelization is based on the (1966) 6th episode of the first Doctor with his companions, Dodo and Steven. Here’s the publisher’s summary of the story:

Somewhere outside space and time there waits the Celestial Toymaker, an enigmatic being who ensnares unwary travellers in his domain to play out his dark and deadly games.

Separated from the security of the TARDIS, the First Doctor is forced to play the complex trilogic game with the evil magician. Meanwhile, Dodo and Steven must enter into a series of tests with, among others, the schoolboy Cyril and theKing and Queen of Hearts.

If they lose, they are condemned to become the Toymaker’s playthings for all eternity. For in the malevolent wonderland that is the Celestial Toyroom, nothing is just for fun…

From the book cover and the synopsis, the publisher might as well have labeled this book in the horror section because of the creepy clowns and its stuck-in-a-dollhouse slash carnival horror house theme that made the reading experience quite chilling. The Doctor and his companions all had to play the games or get stuck in this universe forever. The catch though is they have to end and win AT THE SAME TIME. How crazy is that, right? The Doctor and the Toymaker are in a separate room for a numerical pyramid computation thingymajig with a one-way mirror where they both could monitor Dodo and Steven doing obstacle courses and Amazing Race-ish mental challenges against clowns and mannequins that came to life and the King and Queen of Hearts. Yes, they won against the Toymaker (there won’t be 12 more Doctors if he didn’t), but it definitely wasn’t an easy journey!

YouTube has audio episodes and still images of this, so if you’d like to look and listen, here it is:



For other Doctor Who related posts, here’s a list of links to the DW 50th anniversary books I’ve read and made reviews of:


The Game of Thrones S6 trailer


First reactions: Looks like Jon Snow’s really dead, Cersei and Jaime Lannister are hooking up/teaming up, from Khalessi the queen to Khalessi the slave, Melisandre is using her sexuality again for something (why does she keep on sexing up people), and my favorite, Ser Davos Seaworth, also known as the Onion Knight, adorably closes the clip. Wait, was that a White Walker that Bran faced?

A Superhero Series review: The Flash (Part II)

Grant Gustin <3
Grant Gustin ❤

Honestly, I only started watching The Arrow because I was excited about Barry Allen’s insertion in the former’s storyline during The Flash teaser promo. I wanted to know where the intersection in their timelines began. I have a huge crush on this dude who sang and danced in Glee and who seemed PERFECT as the awkward nerd who’ll play a huge role in saving both Starling and Central City.  After having seen the first season, I’d say he is!

If Oliver Queen is yin, Barry Allen is his yang. He’s from a middle-class family and is haunted by his mother’s murder when he was a child. His father, though innocent, was accused of the death and sent to prison because no one can explain the phenomenon of the figure who created a speed tornado and killed his mother. Although this was Barry’s emotional baggage, he’s a pleasant, earnest guy searching for the truth until lightning struck him and changed his lifestyle and perspective.

Barry Allen and his suitcase of stuff
Barry Allen and his suitcase of stuff

Barry is charming and smart, but a little clumsy and always late for work. The particle accelerator-charged lightning that originated from Star Labs gave him the speed and efficiency that he needed, and it was such an amusing discovery on his end. Barry can’t stop himself from pushing his speed to the test, especially when the Star Labs crew composed of Dr. Caitlyn, Cisqo, and Dr. Wells employed him to maximize his skills and actually help the city fight crime through his speed. The visual effects for The Flash are seamless, and the comedic timing of his entrances and exits are always fun. Of course, a life with superpowers is not always fun because the explosion of Dr. Wells’ machine had created other meta-humans aside from Barry who gained control of worldly and natural elements.

When Barry had trouble with mastery of his skills, The Arrow came in to help with his physical training. The crossovers really pumped up both the viewership and the ‘meat’ of their stories. Whoever thought of that was brilliant because it juxtaposed how Queen’s darkness and Allen’s light, when combined, actually make a good team that complements and learns from each other. Barry’s world is admittedly too fantastic and idealistic, even metaphysical. The Arrow grounded him and made him realize that idealism won’t always work in Starling City where the threats were of a wide-scale conspiracy of government, military, and cult assassins. Strategies are completely different because Oliver faced humans with human tendencies as compared to the meta-humans using extraordinary powers.

The Flash, on the other hand, helped The Arrow lighten up. Barry’s hopefulness was a notch higher than Oliver’s, but our scarlet speedster did give up a few times out of frustration. Unlike Oliver though, his moral integrity was well placed, his family support strongly conventional. The script always had heartwarming scenes with Barry’s two fathers and with his friends, and his crime fighting ways were not to shift attention to himself by causing a scandal. His covert strategy showed a higher level of emotional quotient, but believe me, my biases are not because I like the actor. I loved how the storylines, up until the very end, were born out of pure love instead of deep trauma, hate, and revenge. I was a puddle of tears in the season finale and I guess so were the hundreds of viewers who watched Barry make the most difficult decision of his life. Those Broadway dudes made heartbreak so real (I’m talking about Jesse L. Martin and Grant Gustin’s exchanges). Oh, and of course, the original The Flash, John Wesley Shipp casted as Barry Allen’s father, is just an awesome thing to happen in the television world. You could see that there was so much of empathy and emotion in his eyes as he looks at the younger version of himself go through the hardships he used to. On a lighter note, Cisqo stands out. I love him. He’s a natural as the quintessential funny geek.

The Arrow’s stark realism is balanced by The Flash’s optimism so the audience can get a healthy dose of contrasts when watching these two shows side by side. It’s just enjoyable to see them struggle with their character differences! It’s an exciting time for Grant Gustin to have the mainstream exposure not just in season 2 of his show, and in The Arrow’s fourth, but there’s also the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow. I love the idea of how the storylines are getting weaved with other DC characters. Marvel’s not the only one expanding its cinematic universe. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to read all of the graphic novels to be able to make a comparative review. I’ll stick to watching the shows and the movies. The next few years are gonna be filled with them heroes. I just don’t know how to feel about Grant Gustin NOT being the actor for the film. I don’t have anything against Ezra Miller, but fans are definitely going to feel the confusion of seeing a different face if the movie and the shows co-exist in the same year. I’ll cross the bridge when I get there. In the meantime, here’s the teaser trailer for next season. Will we see Caitlyn and Cisqo suddenly as villains? We’ll find out soon!

A Superhero Series Review: The Arrow (Part I)

The prophecy that geeks will run the (entertainment) world is starting to come true. Aside from the movie industry, television and cable channels are slowly signing on the visual adaptation of graphic novel characters to expose everyone to the cinematic universe of Marvel and DC. Somehow, it makes me wonder why there’s a sudden commercial interest in this area. On a cultural case study level, could humanity be on an implicit journey to address a worldwide moral crisis in finding creative ways of reviving the spirit of heroism in its audience, especially the youth? There are countries still terribly torn by war, corruption, and religious violence. Crime will never be eradicated, unjust deaths of the innocent still break our hearts. On the other hand, natural disasters make people realize that the wrath of Mother Earth is a force that’s beyond our control. What are we to do and how are we to cope? Superheroes are symbolic representatives of hope and inspiration, but since the three guys that I picked are all human (just with extra strength and abilities), they are very relatable in their issues of frailty and inadequacy to answer the need to step up and be a savior. Why are they popular now, and what makes them relevant? These are all my personal thoughts and humble opinions, of course.

I can't find a clothed poster (excuse for the abs)
I can’t find a clothed poster (excuse for the abs)

The premise of the series didn’t interest me much at first. Playboy billionaire’s yacht sinks, he gets stranded on an island, gets survival skills training in the island for five years and returns home with a bucket of secrets, then decides to be a vigilante to save Starling City. When he realizes that the world doesn’t revolve around him, he makes it his cause to throw away his life for others. Now I don’t exactly know if people with post-traumatic stress disorders ever return to their pre-PTSD happy selves because Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen certainly isn’t a ray of sunshine in the three seasons. It isn’t hard to figure out what the Arrow’s life trajectory is. It just occurred to me now what the phrase “straight arrow” really means because it’s perfect for Oliver! Although not exactly honest and not exactly morally proper, Queen’s one-track mind of wanting to be a criminal killing machine created the paradoxical personal and social repercussions he had to go through. His tragic past of torture and emotional pain hardened him too much, and he isn’t accepting of failure and defeat (he even has an aversion to team work). He means well though, and he will always sacrifice his life just for everyone to be safe, but the series is also his journey to enlightenment that being alive is as much a source of heroism than always offering himself to be the sacrificial lamb.

Stephen Amell is a real stuntsman, and his physical investment in this is truly amazing. Maybe it’s required for the role for him to be as formal and as serious as he could so I can’t really vouch for emotional value in his character. He always tries to be the pillar and the leader who doesn’t crack under pressure! Thanks to John Diggle and Felicity Smoak, his friends demonstrate that compassion is what makes a true hero and that heroes need a lot of help from friends. Oliver Queen operated as a fixed point, but Felicity and the other supporting characters flourish in their own timelines. It’s the supporting cast that gives life to Oliver and this series. Without them, this series would tank. The Arrow is too much of a dark cloud, similar to Eeyore of Pooh and friends. I have to say though that ALL characters had their chance to show their dark sides along the way. That’s a great tactic in character development, but since ALL of them had to be featured, it got quite heavy in tone.

Here's the cast goofing around so I'll remember they're not morose IRL
Here’s the cast goofing around so I’ll remember they’re not morose IRL

I’d like to thank Felicity and Ray Palmer for the comic relief and for being a beautiful couple, although it’s sad that she really had to choose the brooding man in the end. Yeah, yeah. I get it. You can be a perfect match with someone else yet there is something that lacks in them to make you happy and contented. If I were Felicity though, I’ll choose The Atom because he doesn’t burrow into a rabbit hole. Thank you, Diggle, for being a rock of loyalty but also a rock of sense when Oliver closes himself to the world. Thank you, Roy, for being persistent in wanting to be a protege and in the end, his savior. I have to thank John Barrowman who’s an awesome Malcolm Merlyn. I missed him as Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood. That was his happy, sunshiny phase. Thank you, The Flash…

[End of Part I. Coming up, The Flash!]