Tuesday, 3 October 2017

“Of the Month” October 2017

Show of the Month:

Comrade Detective

Did you know that in the early/mid-80s in communist Romania, there was a limited-series television show that was part cop procedural and part communist propaganda? It was called Comrade Detective, and it was thought lost to the dust of history… until now! Of course it’s all fake. It was filmed last year on location in Romania with all Romanian actors, and then dubbed into English by Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Nick Offerman. Let me tell you: this is my favorite type of satire, one that is so uncannily accurate that unless you’re in on the joke you almost wouldn’t know it is satire at all (see: Paul Verhoven’s Starship Troopers). Everything is played absolutely, 100% straight, and it is only the occasional scenes that go just a bit too far (such as the bumper segments that open each episode with Channing Tatum talking to an “historian” about the show) that peel back the curtain and let us laugh with the show’s creators rather and simultaneously at the very nature of popularized propaganda itself. Also (unlike Starship Troopers) the Comrade Detective show itself is thoroughly entertaining (though very NSFW) even beyond the satire. Apparently the show was created when Channing Tatum asked the producers to bring him their very worst idea. I think that’s brilliant.

Album of the Month:

Doom Wop by Prom Queen

Two amazing albums came out in September, but alas I can only have one Album of the Month per month. And since Prom Queen’s Doom Wop is more thematically Halloween-ish, it gets the slot in October (sorry, Mike, but don’t worry, your album will definitely get November’s slot). Doom Wop continues Prom Queen’s (A.K.A. Celene Ramada, A.K.A. Leeni) forays into the dark, lush aesthetic of late-50s and 60s pop. Think of The Flamingos’ version of I Only Have Eyes For You and you’ll instantly know the genre of which I speak. The lyrics on this album pretty much all touch on a theme of existential dread, and the music is lovingly crafted to fold into the dreamy 60s sound (though “Manic Panic” slips a bit into late 90s girl-power-pop (think Dressy Bessy)). Everything sounds like what velvet looks and feels like, and even the slightly fuzzy vocals sound like they’re coming out of a vintage amp. It’s all of a type, and if you like this genre (I happen to love it) then this is a wonderful dream of an album. These songs would fit right into a David Lynch movie without batting a fake eyelash.

Video Game of the Month:

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

A gothic castle base. A tormented sort-of-undead antihero. A sickle and cloak. Dark magic. Lots of skeletons. How could this not be my Video Game of the Month in October??? A prequel to Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope, Specter of Torment shows the tragic origins of Specter Knight and how he recruited the Order of No Quarter for the Enchantress. It manages to be completely familiar to anyone who has played the original Shovel Knight game, while simultaneously being a thoroughly inventive and fun platformer. The jump-and-slash conceit of the gameplay is very intuitive, and makes for some refreshing level design. You also gain a new special item after every level (assuming you collected enough red skulls), though Specter’s sickle is so powerful and versatile that I wasn’t able to really discover the full usefulness of each item. I kinda just used the healing one a lot. And since the game is non-linear (you can choose in which order you’ll defeat each level), each level is designed to be able to be beaten without having to use any special item. It’s a very minor quibble in an otherwise excellent game.

Categories: Of the Month.

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