Because fans should be critical, too

Announcement: “Korra” Re-Evaluation Will Be a Video Review

As a change of pace from my standard essay reviews, the post-finale review of Book One of The Legend of Korra will be done in video format. I feel this will be the most effective way to truly delve into just how this series went wrong. I can’t go into the details (or give a definitive release date), but I’m already hard at work on it. This will certainly be a experiment for me, having never made a video review before. Wish me luck?

– Marshall Turner


22 responses

  1. Ian

    Hey Marshall could you do me a solid here. Im so confused as to your stance of season 1 of Korra, so could you clear things up for me?

    Do you like LOK book 1 or do you dislike it, you dont have to write long winded answer just yes or no type thing, any who cant wait for the review 🙂

    January 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    • I hate Book One of Korra.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      • Ian

        Also I guess the finale ruined it that bad for you didnt it?

        January 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      • All will be explained in due time, so I’ll be brief: the finale didn’t just ruin the show, but opened my eyes to how lousy the rest of the series was. I’m watching the show again as we speak, and, so far, it’s worse than I remember.

        January 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      • Ian

        hmm… interesting well Ill be patient besides your the critic and I LOVE differing opinions from my own. To me the show was great up until the final act of episode 12, all of that nonsense was bad, but I dont see why this is so bad on the rest of the show, for one it doesn’t effect Amon who I hope you still enjoy by the way, but…yeah I like the show, I dont think its amazing or anything like that, but still good. Cant wait for the review 🙂
        reply if you have any input

        January 2, 2013 at 6:09 pm

      • One last reply: while Amon’s story has lost some of its grandeur for me, I still find his and Tarrlok’s demise the most effective part of the series.

        I’m so glad we can all be civil about this, even in disagreement!

        January 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      • Ian

        Yeah Im glad we can be civil too! Also one last question if I may and if I dont get an reply I wont lose sleep at night lol. But how are you going about this review? Is it just an overall review of the book , how indepth of a review is this going to be? Also will this be replacing the written reviews? Also I decided to go back and rate the episodes, you dont have to give yours Im just putting mine up for me pretty much lol.

        Welcome to republic city: B-
        Leaf in the wind: A
        the revalation: A+
        The voice in the night: A-
        The spirit of Competition: C
        And the winner is…: A+
        The Aftermath: C
        When Extremes meet: A
        Out of the Past: B
        Turning the tides: A-
        Skeletons in the closet: B
        Endgame: C-

        those are my numbers Ill stop hounding you with responses now, sorry.
        See you in the review!

        January 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm

  2. Ian

    While I disagree with your statement and cant wait for you to elaborate in your review thank you for answering so simply bro 🙂

    January 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm

  3. zolt

    Hello, I suppose that to get a perspective for your upcoming review from some of the more harsh elements of the viewing public, I decided to find two reviews of this season to see why some people might be a little upset about how Korra turned out, though be warned for one of them since the site has some popups:

    January 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    • Ian

      Its weird/ sad how most of the complaints with the show are from the finale lol

      January 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      • It’s very much the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

        January 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    • I will take these into consideration when it comes time to make my case. Thank you!

      January 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

  4. a-variable

    Looking forward to the video reviews.

    January 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

  5. TexasHammer

    Hey all, been reading this blog for about a week and thought I’d post my two cents.

    I found Korra to be enjoyable, albeit decidedly inferior to The Last Airbender. I have my own bag of complaints and compliments for the show, but my point is really just that Korra was doomed to be controversial among fans because it presented a different style of storytelling nearly irreconcilable with the original series.

    TLA was essentially a character driven show. The final showdown which we knew was coming did not take prominence in the show until the third season, and for a show set in such a fantastical world, the plot was fairly basic (learn elements, defeat generic bad guy). The reason this was still able to work was because of the many strong characters in the show. Numerous episodes contributed nothing to the ultimate plot, but helped to enrich the characters, so that by the end of the series, everyone was sure to care enough about Aang or Zuko or Toph or Iroh to enjoy the conclusion, even if the plot was uninspired.

    LoK, on the other hand, is a plot driven show. All the characters are fairly flat, dull, and undeveloped. On many occasions a character’s actions might not make any sense, but contribute to the plot in a faster and more significant way than if he or she were to act within his or her established personality. If you pay a lot of attention to this, you’ll likely be disgusted with the show. But by simply accepting that you (and the characters) are just along for the ride, the show greatly improves. Whether you liked the ending or not, there was certainly a lot more going on in Korra than there was in TLA at this point.

    I enjoyed Korra the same way I enjoy an old Bogart noir film. Even though I couldn’t care less about the characters, I like the setting, the tone, and was intrigued by the plot.

    January 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    • Your comparison of the storytelling styles for the two shows is pretty spot on. While I’ll naturally disagree with just how successful Avatar was with its approach (e.g. except for certain individual episodes, I never truly cared about Aang, the main protagonist), in the end, it was truly my feelings for the characters that saved the day.

      The problem with Korra is that, while I agree it’s primarily plot-driven, even this kind of story has to define its characters well enough that we know what they want and what the stakes are; if the characters and the audience are just along for the ride, they at least have the right to somewhat know each other. For instance, I knew what I needed to know about the characters in Raiders of the Lost Ark to sufficiently enjoy that film. Meanwhile, I’m six episodes into Korra again, and, with a few exceptions (“A Voice in the Night” especially), I honestly couldn’t tell you who Korra is or what she wants. She’s not well-defined, and since she’s the main focus and this isn’t Citizen Kane, it hinders how much we actually understand and enjoy the show. (This is all, of course, stuff that will be addressed in the video review, so I’ll hold off on elaborating right now.)

      P.S. Thank you for specifying “an old Bogart noir film.” I was damn near ready to pull the Casablanca card.

      January 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    • JMR

      Sorta long, but my two cents:

      I’d have to agree with Marshall. A plot driven show still needs to have a foundation in characters and, I would add, in setting. And to me, the world building was really where Korra’s failure lies.

      The main plot of Korra attempts to derive audience interest and tension from there being “high stakes”. An entire city is at risk! Lives are at stake! Who will prevail? And to answer that question honestly, I’d have to respond, “I really don’t care.” The problem is that I don’t feel invested in what’s at stake. To paraphrase someone else I was talking to about this, the failure of Korra’s world building is evident in the fact that we know more about the minutia of an imaginary sport than we know about the governance, people, culture, or economy of Republic City. Think about how many times our main characters go out into the city, and all we see are a handful of people milling about in the background at most. Think about how few times the characters actually interact with these people. The only time we see a significant number of people are when they’re a generic sports crowd at the arena or a generic angry mob at an Equalist rally.

      This lackluster work characterizing the setting leaves the city feeling dead and empty, so when it comes time for Amon’s revolution, and our “high stakes” plot kicks into gear, I’m left not to be concerned for the welfare of a living, breathing metropolis filled with a diverse people with a thriving culture. Instead, I’m asked to be concerned for the well-being of a background painting. Oh no! They’ve added smoke trails to the background painting! Anything but smoke trails!

      When they almost got it right:
      In “When Extremes Meet” (I’m of the opinion this episode should have been titled “What the Rest of the Show Should Have Been Like”) they get so close to having a moment where I’m concerned for the people of Republic City, when Tarrlok is being a douche to all the non-benders. But it’s almost like the show then says, “Whoa whoa whoa. We’re getting dangerously close to making the audience care about what’s going on outside the little bubble our main characters exist in. We need to make sure the next episode involves none of this stuff and is instead all about the central cast.”

      As for the characters, I think Marshall has the problems there pretty well covered. I’ll just add that my problem was that while the characters were interesting, they were “interesting” in the way that lab rats are “interesting”. Sure, it’s intriguing to put them under a microscope and watch as they bump into each other, but I don’t feel any real connection to them. They’re specimens to be observed, not identified with.

      I think this leads to why I can’t really excuse the “Aang as the Fairy Godmother from Shek 2” ending despite the “suicide theory”. The problem is, the show doesn’t let me inside Korra’s head, so I’m left puzzled as to why she decided not to follow through. What makes her step back from the edge of that cliff? We don’t know because we don’t know the characters.

      January 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      • TexasHammer

        You both make good points, which I agree with. The failing in the characters isn’t because they fail to meet some arbitrary line of believability and sympathy, but because the plot requires us to care about the characters in order to succeed, but fails to develop them well enough to achieve this. In The Spirit of Competition, the love ‘square’ doesn’t work because we aren’t invested in the characters, and don’t care how this situation plays out. (though even with a character oriented show, you can’t introduce a romantic subplot this early on.) Marshall’s comment about Raiders of the Lost Ark is good example. The characters aren’t developed, but it never asks us to become involved, so the movie works. Also, unlike Indy, the characters in Korra are not particularly endearing, and fail to gain any affection from us simply by going about the pre-planned plot.

        A large part of the reason I found the season to work was due to my personal views, or more aptly, fears. One of my greatest fears is the power of the government, particularly in suspension of Habeas Corpus and the near impossibility of fighting them. For this reason, when watching When Extremes Meet, I found Tarrlock to be much scarier than Amon. Even though I didn’t care that Korra’s friends were locked up, I was scared by the notion, not the specifics. (Ever heard the phrase: You can’t fight city hall? It gave me a big kick when watching the fight AT city hall) Since this directed my rage at Tarrlock, I seriously enjoyed watching Amon take his bending the next episode, which, when coupled with mixed feelings about his actions in And the Winner Is…, made me find him to be an intriguing and thought-provoking character for the rest of the show. But if you were to take the initial phobia away, I can understand why the season would seem much, much weaker.

        I’m probably getting too into it, since this isn’t the actual review, but anyway, I guess this is now my four cents of contributions.

        January 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      • I can definitely see the show working from that perspective, TexasHammer. I have my own fears and mistrust of the government (and any institution, for that matter), and sometimes Korra does successfully play upon them.

        I have to it, it’s interesting that you and JMR both happen to mention the episode “When Extremes Meet,” because that’s the last one I just re-watched. Despite my boredom (honestly, there hasn’t been a good action sequence since “And the Winner Is…”), it has two merits:

        1) It’s the one episode where the social and political implements of the main conflict shine the brightest, especially when Tarrlok acts so cruelly towards every single non-bender as if being so automatically made them Equalists.

        2) Strangely enough, I found myself having much more sympathy for Tarrlok than any other character. Given his end in the finale, and realizing that he genuinely means well but is simply too twisted to do any actual good, he just comes across as tragic. (And if you think that’s bad, I also found myself absolutely reveling in his putdowns to Korra in regards to her failed Airbending training.)

        It’s really not a good sign when you find yourself not only more invested in one of the villain’s misguided actions, but also hating the good guy because her misguided actions barely seem to have any real consequences.

        January 17, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    • Ian

      Hey fawndeer youve been only posting other peoples opinions on the series, so whats your take?

      January 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm

  6. fawndeer

    I did not really like it at all. I stuck around for maybe the first four episodes, but when episode 5 came, I completely lost interest. I don’t care for the main heroine, who now seems like a generic “strong female character,” it’s not as feminist as some think it is, the love subplot is excruciating to watch, Mako is a chore to sit through particularly towards the end, and I’m personally tired of lots of people calling it the best thing on kids tv in 2012. I guess my opinion is most like aroduc’s opinion from a site called Tenka Seiha, which is known for jaded, detached critiques.

    January 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    • Ian

      Well theres nothing wrong with disliking it and I know some people have different views on the shows flaws. I like a majority of the fanbase like korra but unlike a majority of the fanbase I seem to be the only one not trying to kill someone for disliking it. I know theres others IM not trying to be some self rightcheos douche who thinks hes right all the time lol anyway thanks for replying dude 🙂

      January 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

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