The One Problematic Scene in the “Teen Titans” Film

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It should come as no great shock to longtime readers of this site that I loved Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.

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All the “Mission: Impossible” Films, Reviewed

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To the average blockbuster franchise, longevity is often viewed as anathema. Too many times have we seen a film debut to widespread critical and audience acclaim, then get bogged down by increasingly weaker sequels, each more desperate to ride the coattails of the original’s success than the last. The original Superman films, The Pink Panther, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ice Age – all unfortunate examples of what happens when you let a good thing last too long.

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“Incredibles 2”, Though More Ambitious, Never Quite Matches the Original

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Warning: The following review contains spoilers for Incredibles 2. Proceed with care.

Pixar sequels usually spend a long time in gestation. It was 11 years between the release of the second and third Toy Story films. Then it was 12 years between Monsters Inc. and Monsters University. Then we waited 13 years between Nemo and Dory. And now the studio has broken its record yet again, with a 14-year gap between The Incredibles and Incredibles 2.

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The “Jurassic Park” Trilogy Didn’t Know When to Go Extinct

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I was born the same year that Jurassic Park was released in theaters. It was a strange time, or so my mother tells me. Dinosaurs were everywhere – on shirts, mugs, window decals, and Weird Al covers. I was lucky enough to escape the prehistoric merchandising onslaught – my parents never forced me to wear a T-Rex onesie, and none of my plush toys were modeled from the Mesozoic. (Unless you count Barney. But I don’t, nor will I ever, count Barney.)

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The “Pitch Perfect” Trilogy Gave Acapella a Much-Deserved Spotlight

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My first experience with acapella music came early in my tween years, when I dug up some old tapes labeled “non-instrumental.” Running them through the recorder, I at first didn’t believe it – those background voices sounded too similar to standard-issue drums and bass guitars. But I quickly caught on to the beatboxing and legato vocals that accompanied each song, and became fascinated by the concept – an entire orchestra composed of nothing but the collective human voice.

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West Wing 6×10: Faith Based Initiative

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[Writer: Bradley Whitford | Director: Chris Misiano | Aired: 1/5/2005 ]

“Am I wrong to want to set the record straight? No pun intended?” – CJ

If you’ve been following these reviews for a while, you’ve probably noted that I don’t like The West Wing placing its politics front and center. The show is at its strongest when it points the magnifying glass at its characters, with policies and procedures functioning mainly as story fuel.

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West Wing 6×09: Impact Winter

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[Writer: Debora Cahn | Director: Leslie Linka Glatter | Aired: 12/8/2004 ]

“This is the back room.” – Leo

During the teaser sequence of “Impact Winter,” Annabeth and Josh discuss the upcoming press briefing, which will occur during “Take Out the Trash Week.” Annabeth asks Josh if he’s interested in doing the press briefing in Toby’s absence, but Josh swiftly declines, noting what a powder keg the press room can be.

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“Ocean’s 8” Proves that Women Deserve (and Need) Their Own Films

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Ocean’s 8 is a Hollywood executive’s dream of a summer movie. It’s modestly-budgeted, eschewing the grand-scale action and VFX-plosions which pepper the traditional action blockbuster – yet it’s also light, fun, and breezy, in the way that only summertime films are allowed to be.

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“Angel” Review Archive

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Here are all the site’s episode and season reviews of Angel. All reviews through “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” (episode 4×04) are written by Ryan Bovay. Beginning with “Supersymmetry,” reviews are written by a variety of other site contributors (including your humble administrator).

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The Important Lesson of the Seinfeld Finale

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May 14, 1998, marked the end of two pop-cultural touchstones. One was Frank Sinatra, who died in Los Angeles at the age of 82. The other was the TV series Seinfeld, which aired its final episode on NBC that evening.

It may seem trivial to lump a man’s life with a TV show, but while Sinatra was mourned by many, the end of Seinfeld garnered even greater recognition. NBC devoted its entire Thursday night comedy block to the show – an hourlong retrospective clip show, followed by the hourlong finale. The episode attracted over 76 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched TV finales of all time. (No other series finale since then has come close to that number, with only one – the Friends finale – even getting halfway there.)

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The Ending to “Infinity War” Presents a Long-Term Problem for the MCU

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By now, it seems like everyone on planet Earth has seen Avengers: Infinity War. However, if you’re one of the select few who haven’t seen the film (or one of the fewer who don’t have interest – shame on you, BTW), I should clarify that, as the title implies, this article will feature MAJOR SPOILERS for the ending of Infinity War, as well as the two-and-a-half hours leading up to it. Oh, and maybe a few other Marvel films, too.

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West Wing 6×08: In the Room

6x08_top[Writers: Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 12/8/2004]

“You have a year to talk me out of voting for him.” – Donna

Among the numerous changes made during the Sorkin-to-Wells transition, few are as jarring as The West Wing’s newfound penchant for “modern” cultural references. Sorkin cut off the show’s real-world history around the Nixon era, and the culture discussed in the White House rarely ticked past 1975. But a new production team brings a new flavor to the series, and so it is that references inch slightly closer to the 21st century. “In the Room,” for example, has a throwaway line where Bartlet references the political TV series Crossfire. It’s only a brief mention, but it sticks out jarringly against the show’s retrograde framework.

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West Wing 6×07: A Change is Gonna Come

6x07_top[Writers: John Sacret Young & Josh Singer | Director: Vincent Misiano | Aired: 12/1/2004]

“Piece of cloth. Cheesy piece of fabric.” – Josh

As I’m writing this review, my West Wing DVDs – the Complete Series collection – sits idly on a nearby shelf. It’s a magnificent DVD set, packed with great special features and a glossy series guide. But a thin layer of dust covers the set box – in truth, I’ve not consulted the DVD set in a while. Whenever I need to rewatch an episode for review, I simply pull it up and stream it on Netflix.

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West Wing 6×06: The Dover Test

6x06_top_[Writer: Carol Flint | Director: Laura Innes | Aired: 11/24/2004 ]

“You don’t work here anymore.” – Debbie

It’s unfortunately telling that the two most interesting characters in “The Dover Test” do not have any direct affiliation with the Bartlet White House. In fact, it’s unfortunate, period – most of the main characters spend this episode looking out of their element, wandering from one hallowed room to another in search of a direction.

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Hollywood Shoots, CinemaScores

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Like most critics, I’ve long been disdainful of audience scores. Simply put, people should not determine which films are worth watching based on IMDB ratings or Netflix upvotes. While some of these aggregates can give you a basic idea of how the public views a specific film, the anonymity and insubstantiality of online rankings make it a poor substitute for pop-culture critiquing.

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Top 10: The Best of DreamWorks Animation

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If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you’re probably familiar with my love for all things Disney. Even if Disney may be an evil corporate monster intent on sucking our wallets dry and brainwashing us through mind-controlling Mickey Mouse ears, their films are still a lot of fun. I grew up on all things Disney and Pixar, and maintain a fondness for their works even to this day.

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Oscars 2018: The Animated Shorts

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Once upon a time, the short film was everywhere. Cinemas preceded every new film with a brief and humorous cartoon from the minds at Warner Bros. or Walt Disney Studios. For much of the 20th century, in fact, the theater offered patrons a veritable variety show of short films (both live-action and animated), newsreels, and musical performances in addition to the feature presentation.

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West Wing 6×05: The Hubbert Peak

6x05_top[Writer: Peter Noah | Director: Julie Hébert | Aired: 11/17/2004 ]

“We didn’t have the votes.” – Josh

The Toyota Prius is one of the most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly cars ever made. Not only will it get you where you need to go, but it’ll do so without polluting the air with unwanted carbon emissions. You can look good while driving, and you’ll save a dozen friendly seagulls with each trip. Go green – go Prius!

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West Wing 6×04: Liftoff

6x04_top[Writer: Debora Cahn | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 11/10/2004 ]

“I don’t think this is gonna work out.” – CJ

Network television is built on status quo – individual episodes may play around with character dynamics, but in the long run, nothing can change. Yet the longer a show stays on the air, the more difficult status quo is to maintain. Even the most reliable formula will eventually grow stale, at which point fans will begin hungering for change.

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West Wing 6×03: Third-Day Story

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[Writer: Eli Attie | Director: Christopher Misiano | Aired: 11/3/2004 ]

“It’s that little burst of warmth before you freeze to death.” – CJ

“Third-Day Story” is a step up from the first two episodes of The West Wing’s sixth season. That’s not saying a great deal, but it’s worth acknowledging. As the show shucks off the effects of the wrong-headed Israel/Palestine arc, it tries to return to its baseline status quo – but the results, especially in the early going, are mixed.

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West Wing 6×02: The Birnam Wood

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[Writer: John Wells | Director: Alex Graves | Aired: 10/27/2004 ]

“Sir, should we be here?” – Josh

About the best thing that can be said about “The Birnam Wood” is that it’s not nearly as self-aggrandizing as it could have been. The episode could have been an exercise in pompous polemic, the sort of all-too-important speechifying that doomed the worst of the Sorkin episodes. But John Wells (who wrote this episode, in addition to the preceding “Memorial Day” and “NSF Thurmont”) keeps the drama toned-down and evenly moderated. Attempts at political grandstanding are few and far between.

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“Slayers & Vampires” is an Engrossing History of Buffy and Angel

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When it comes to essays, journals, and thinkpieces, few TV shows have as vast a catalog as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Countless books have been published which dig into the characters and themes of the show. The series itself was a trailblazer for the current wave of analytical online TV recaps, paving the way for essays about quality shows ranging from Breaking Bad to The Leftovers. And, lest we forget, this very website owes its existence to the intricacies of the Buffyverse.

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Happy New Year 2018

Beautiful holiday fireworks

Welcome, one and all, to 2018.

It was almost a year ago that Mike contacted me and asked if I would like to take over as administrator of Critically Touched. As a regular writer and contributor to this website for several years, I was thrilled to accept his offer. But at the same time, I wasn’t sure if I could properly sustain my usual level of writing while also presiding over the site and forum itself (free server notwithstanding), in addition to keeping up the continual strains of college life and adulthood.

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The Top 15 TV Shows of 2017

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2017 may have at last been the year in which quantity overtook quality.

With over 500 shows airing this year, across more networks and streaming platforms than ever before, the world of television is bursting at the seams. And the effects were clear: This year saw multiple networks (WGN, A&E, Cinemax) get pushed out of the scripted-TV business by sheer force of competition. There was a narrowly-averted writers’ strike, attributed largely to the evolving nature of the business. And some of the best shows on television slipped between the cracks unnoticed, with viewership numbers that scored in the mere six-digits.

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A Complete Guide to Studio 60 (Part 2)

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I wasn’t sure if I’d have the strength to finish this guide. Studio 60 takes a lot out of a guy, particularly when he reviews 11 episodes in one go. But I’ve been watching a lot of Saturday Night Live lately, and it’s reminded me that – even after all these decades, and even in a largely uneven season – sketch comedy can still bring joy to the world. It can bring laughter to us when we most need it.

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