Because fans should be critical, too


Announcement: New Page for Research Material

While I have no delusions of this re-vamped Avatar: the Last Airbender retrospective becoming some kind of professional thing (i.e., no MLA citations), as I’m amassing all of these articles and interviews, I figure it would be a good idea to create a specific spot on this blog where it can all be collected and viewed for easy reference, by myself and anyone interested who’s interested. There is a lot of great stuff out there and more seems to pop up every other week (just two weeks ago, Nick Animation’s Youtube channel posted an interview of co-creator Bryan Konietzko and co-composer Jeremy Zuckerman discussing the music of Avatar and The Legend of Korra).

Hopefully, if time allows, this new page will be implemented by the end of this week, and all this great material can slowly be compiled onto it. Who knows, maybe some people would like to contribute to the reference pool with interesting articles and/or interviews they’ve come across themselves. Rosemont, a long-time follower, frequently links me interesting articles and posts relevant to Avatar and animation in general (including just recently linking an article on the declining quality of Disney animated features up to Moana).

In the meantime, I’m busy with this and other projects (and my day job, ugh). So stay tuned and thanks once again for your patience. And Happy Valentine’s Day!

…But I’ll Be Back (Again)

My God, it’s really been over ten months since my last post!

What could I have possibly been doing all that time that didn’t involve updating this blog on a regular—if not frequent—basis? Has life finally gotten the better of me so that I can’t see the use in yet another re-evaluation of Avatar: the Last Airbender and/or The Legend of Korra (especially when so many others out there have taken that burden upon themselves)? Is my mental health such an issue that I’d rather wait until I had it under complete control than continue writing out of fear that the blog would de-rail into another emotional train wreck?

Or did my enthusiasm for Avatar simply fade away as I’ve gotten older and grown more accountable to my responsibilities as an adult?

To that last question, the answer is absolutely not. If anything, my appreciate for Avatar—as well as my relative disdain for Korra—continues to grow as time goes on. As an animation lover and a sucker for plain old good storytelling in any medium, Avatar has thoroughly secured its place in my heart and imagination.

I never planned to be away from this blog for so long (let alone without warning or without any updates on my state of mind or when I’d be back), and all I can do is apologize to those who remained loyal and checked up on this blog every now and then for something new. My negligence is inexcusable, especially since I continue to receive new comments and messages every month.

On the plus side, however, these past ten relatively Avatar-free months may have given me the proper distance and clarity needed to give this retrospective idea another shot. That said, it won’t be a continuation of the retrospective I’d already started. No, I’ll have to start from scratch again, from episode one, with current insights and citations.

However, since starting from the beginning won’t necessarily mean on a weekly, episode-to-episode basis. I’m not certain what my schedule will be (or if there’ll even be a schedule), but I have an idea for the format: this time, instead of going in strict chronological order from Avatar to Korra, I’ll simply review them both at the same time, starting with the two-part premieres of both series and ending with their respective multi-part finales. Of course, this parallel reviewing style won’t yield perfect results, since Avatar contains sixty-one total episodes, while Korra has fifty-two. However, with a little maneuvering, this could work pretty well, especially if, like me, you’re privy to the idea that Avatar only got better as it went along, while Korra only got worse. In that respect, such parallel reviewing could be extremely illuminating.

Don’t expect to see any of this to take root until the beginning of 2017. As of now, this is the only project I’ll have in the foreseeable future (that Frozen project, for instance, has been put on the back burner). In the meantime, I’ll be doing as much preliminary work as I can, including gathering and listening to/reading interviews, any behind-the-scenes stuff I can find, notable opinions from other Avatar writers, etc.,etc.

This time we’ll get it right. No question.

Announcement: Another Late Review, Konietzko’s Upcoming Graphic Novel

I had a minor incident occur during the holiday weekend, so I’m a bit behind schedule. The next retrospective review (“The Waterbending Scroll”) won’t be ready until Wednesday, July 8th.

In the mean time, Avatar and Korra co-creator Bryan Konietzko is working on a graphic novel called Threadworlds that won’t be released until 2017. He gave Entertainment Weekly a little interview about it. The one interesting fact in this piece (I say one because, frankly, Konietzko has never been the most interest interviewee) is that, at the peak of Korra‘s production, they were producing thirty episodes at a time. That certainly explains a lot about the waning quality of that series since Book Two, and much of the blame has to go to Nickelodeon for burdening them with such a heavy workload. I’m very interested to see how Threadworlds turns out, especially since this time it’s the result of a singular vision. Good luck, Mr. Konietzko!

– Marshall Turner

Announcement: Getting Back on Schedule And Moving On

As suggested, I’m going back onto a set schedule so that I can get each episode review out in a timely fashion. I’ll do my best to make sure there is a new episode review every three days (if it’s a two-parter, it will take five days). If for some reason I fall behind schedule or miss a day due to some unforeseeable complication or personal problems, I’ll let you know as soon as I can. Otherwise, this review schedule is in effect starting yesterday.

Over the past few days, I’ve been contemplating whether the Retrospective reviews should be placed on a whole new blog entirely and, on the other hand, whether I should completely get rid of the older episodes reviews. As I read through those old reviews, it’s rather painful to see how limited and hyper-subjective they were, and how little they might contribute to anyone else’s enjoyment and appreciation of Avatar. The Retrospective should rectify this, but that means the older reviews will be utterly useless except as archive material. Should I leave them be, move the new reviews to a new blog, or get rid of the old reviews entirely? Any feedback on this matter would be much appreciated.

– Marshall Turner

Announcement: Still Not Dead (Yet), Still Insanely Busy

In light of the increased workload that has plagued me since the last post, I’ve been very neglectful of this blog over the past few months. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I promised to start the Avatar: the Last Airbender retrospective way back in February. That was a terrible lapse in judgment on my part, and I apologize to everyone still around for my absence.

Here’s the deal: I won’t be able to devote much attention to this blog again until May. By that point, all my priorities will have been straightened out, my classes finished, and my ultimate destiny decided. However, I’d rather not keep this blog so empty as I have these last few months, so I’ll want to post something to bind the time. I’m not sure what, though.

Lately, I’ve been absorbing a lot of animated features, series, and shorts through Netflix, the school library, and my own collection. If you’d all like, I can begin posting a few non-Avatar cartoon articles on this blog and then transfer them to the fabled animation blog when I have the time. They wouldn’t be too long or intricate (especially compared to the Avatar episode reviews), but it would be something. If anything, it would help me exercise my writing abilities in preparation for the heavy duty stuff later on. Let’s see where this goes.

Thank you all for your patience and support. Until next time!

– Marshall Turner

Announcement: I’m Not Dead (Yet), Just Busy

If I’ve devoted less time to this blog then usual, it’s both because the end of The Legend of Korra has left me relatively unmotivated, and because my work schedule just became more hectic than I could have previously imagined. The next four months I will be preoccupied with several different projects, most of which have superseded the blog in significance.

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on future writings, the pending animation blog, and the upcoming Avatar: the Last Airbender and Korra retrospective (which will start in February). I simply have to fit them into my overall schedule to make it work. If anything, this could improve my writing, since every word and second will count much more this time around.

So bear with me a little longer, guys. I’m still here, just insanely busy and doing the best I can.

– Marshall Turner

Announcement: “Frozen” on Vinyl? Has It Really Come to This?


Was the music of Frozen really that good enough to warrant a vinyl pressing?

How much more money does Disney need?

On one hand, if this exposes kids to the mysterious wonders of vinyl records, then I don’t see the harm. Any excuse for mom and pop to dust off the old turntable and play some records is a good excuse to me.

On the other hand, it’s the fucking soundtrack for Frozen. Just how does this overproduced, squeaky-clean music benefit from being heard on vinyl? Unless someone plans on playing “Let It Go” at half-speed backwards and uncovering some hidden Satanic message, I consider this precious waste of vinyl a sin. (Those bizarre “sexy Olaf Halloween costumes” were more tolerable than this.)

Consider this an update of sorts: the Frozen video review is still underway (and overdue), but if people are really dishing out the money to buy this crap, is a critical assessment even worth it anymore?

(Speaking of pointless criticisms, here’s a bit of Fry and Laurie that I think everyone here will appreciate.)