Legends of Tomorrow 5×13: “The One Where We’re Trapped on TV” review
Ultimate Buds 4×16: “That One with Zari’s Hot Boss”, Highcastle Abbey 2×05: “Series Two, Episode Five”, Star Trip 3×27: “Of All Possible Worlds”, and Mister Parker’s Cul-De-Sac 19×12: “Mister Parker Talks About METAFICTION” reviews
Fates be praised! Every week is wonderful week in this great, wonderful, beautiful, and wonderful world the Fates have given us. But this week is especially wonderful, because not only do we have new episodes of our four favorite/only television shows, but they’ve all come together for one big crossover event!
I mean, a crossover between four different shows! According to the Fates Approved History of Television, no TV franchise has ever done anything that big before!
This crossover takes our shows to some weird, wild (but still wonderful!) places. So come pull up a chair, heat up some mush, relinquish some free will, and take a look through these episodes with me!
Ultimate Buds 4×16: “That One with Zari’s Hot Boss” review
The crossover starts off on Ultimate Buds, and for a while everything’s going along like normal. Sure, after their almost-kiss in “That One Where Behrad Gets an Ostrich”, Zari and Nate are in a weird place, but that doesn’t get in the way of a classic Zari’s-got-a-new-boss plot. It may be hard to live up to the standard set by “That One with Zari’s Fat Boss” and “That One with Zari’s Hippie Boss”, but this ep makes a game go of it. Behrad screwing up the mush and mooning over Zari’s boss, Nate showing up trying out yet another accent, and cementing “missed the kiss” as our favorite new catchphrase for him: it’s Ultimate Buds at its hilarious best!
But then comes the turn. The Tarazis’ family heirloom (fought over so memorably in “That One Where They Do Ocean’s 11” and “That One Where Nate Swallows a Bracelet”) begins to glow, and out of it comes … it’s not clear what. Something like Zari, yet not Zari. At first insubstantial, it takes over Zari’s body, and the change is instantaneous. Her attitude is different, her voice is different, she immediately breaks Zari’s vow never to wear flannel (good thing the Zaristas from “That One Where Zari Starts a Cult” weren’t around to see that), and where our Zari has only warmed up to Nate in fits and starts (classic will-they-or-won’t-they style), this new Zari immediately leaps into Nate’s arms, giving all us Natari shippers the confused feels. It’s astonishing how different yet how fully realized this new Zari feels, almost as though the actor had spent years practicing this role on some other show before flipping performances on a dime.
By itself, that would already make this the second-weirdest Ultimate Buds of the season (nothing’s going to top “That One with the Amazing Technicolor Dream Mush”, of course). But things get stranger as this new Zari, in a bit of unprecedented metaness, is able to hear the laughter of the studio audience, and quickly comes to the conclusion, “We’re stuck in a TV sitcom.” Nate and Behrad naturally don’t know what she’s talking about, but go along with her once she demonstrates that, not only is she aware of being a fictional character, but has some sort of control over the fictional universe, being able to summon visual effects at will and break open a door to a different television series.
Some have said this was a bad decision, that introducing the supernatural simply doesn’t fit the world of Ultimate Buds. Those people are gravely mistaken, of course. For one thing, Ultimate Buds has dabbled with the supernatural before, during Season 2’s crossover with I Dream of Nora. Plus, everyone who’s complained has had their thread cut for questioning the perfection of what the Fates’ have given us. So, y’know, let that be a lesson to ya.
What we have here is a classic Ultimate Buds romp that takes a sudden pivot into the weird and experimental, and I am all here for it! And so are you! It is fated.
- We don’t get to see much of the titular Hot Boss, but she gets a few laughs. Definitely loved her making a callback to Zari’s “amnesia” from “That One Where Zari Fakes Brain Cancer”.
- Nate’s trying out for a new TV show called Arrow about a vigilante. Since it’s a project Nate’s interested in, it obviously will never catch on.
- We get another reference to someone eating a “Behrad brownie”, deepening the mystery of what these “brownies” are. They don’t sound like any mush I’ve ever had.
- As hinted at above, Natari shippers are left in an odd place where Zari is now ready to admit her feelings for Nate, except it’s a different Zari. If only there were some way for the old Zari and this new Zari to both exist and to compare notes, but of course that will never happen.
Highcastle Abbey 2×05: “Series Two, Episode Five” review
It’s with Highcastle Abbey that the crossover begins in earnest. With the Ultimate Buds passing through a portal from their world to the aristocratic realm of Pre-Fates England, things get crazy.
It turns out the “Persian gentleman” that Lady Natalie has been trying to pair Lady Astra with is actually Behrad. That seems to torpedo any chance that Lady Astra might accept her mother’s matchmaking, as Behrad will have to go back to his own show when the crossover is finished. Yet seeing her eager ambition matched with Behrad’s laid back ways? It surprisingly works for me; I’d be up for seeing more of it.
And that’s only one way that Highcastle Abbey weaves its ongoing character arcs into the needs of this crossover. Mr. Constantine’s dabbling with black magic, the source of so much angst for him throughout the season, reaches its head when it turns out the new Zari apparently knows all about it (though it’s confusing, as the Mr. Constantine she knows seems far different from the urbane gentleman’s gentleman we’ve come to love). She uses this knowledge to blackmail him into opening a portal to yet another television world, as she’s apparently gathering an assembly of TV characters for some big teamup, and Mr. Constantine is faced with the prospect of being taken away from the comforting halls of Highcastle Abbey to a new reality, one where his growing occultism might be appreciated.
Mostly, though, this episode is an excuse to see the Ultimate Buds engage in their sitcommy quips and antics inside the more sober halls of Highcastle. It’s amazing how their broad comedic asides, which feel so natural when delivered back at their apartment, or while sipping mush juice at Grand Central Elation, feel so awkward, even cringe inducing, when done in this new environment. It makes you wonder how much of what we treat as normal is simply because the environment it occurs in has conditioned us to expect it. How would our own reality look to someone who didn’t have the Fates controlling their every thought?
Praise the Fates! Yet another wonderful episode!
- Nate and Behrad accept the fact that their whole reality is a TV show pretty easily. Then again, it’s not the first time someone convinced them everything they know is a lie. Remember “That One Where Nate Flunks Hypnotism”?
- According to our new Zari, Mr. Constantine’s magical talents are the result of a different version of him, from some other reality, intruding on the reality of Highcastle Abbey. Feels like this was done to mollify the people who have felt the magic storyline has been an unwelcome and out of place addition to this season. Those people have already had their threads cut for questioning what the Fates’ script choices, but y’know, posthumously, this is nice for them.
- Lady Astra makes an impromptu decision to join the others in traveling to a new reality, just because she wants some adventure. This is her Titanic trip from Series 1 all over again.
Star Trip 3×27: “Of All Possible Worlds” review
We’ve seen our two favorite captains face some daunting challenges over the years. There’s the time they were kidnapped by an alien circus troupe. There’s the time they fought the fifty-story robot who inspired the Paul Bunyan legend. There’s the time the Deltosians put an extra brain in Captain Sharpe’s head. There’s the time a transporter accident gave Captain Lance an evil twin and a morally neutral triplet. But there’s one thing all their adventures couldn’t prepare them for: the Ultimate Buds going, “On the other hand, why not?”
Now cast in the guise of Gromulans, our Ultimate Buds and Highcastle Abbey characters don’t know the rules for this new reality. Lance and Sharpe undoubtedly expected them to behave as the Gromulans back in “Forever on the Edge of a City” did: lots of boasting, bluffing, and posturing before getting around to the shooty-shoot. Nate and Behrad pushing the plasma cannon button just ‘cause they’re lovable little idiots? That certainly wasn’t in the game plan.
Yet our Star Trip captains do have a bit of an edge when it comes to accepting this strange turn of events. Discovering that their memories have been altered and they’ve been trapped in an artificial reality? That’s old hat for them. Heck, just last week they were stuck reliving the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in a perpetual time loop. Once they see the Ultimate Buds acting like goofy sitcom characters, and see Lady Astra and Mr. Constantine behaving in a genteel manner, it becomes obvious that reality has been played with and they’re in yet another prison dimension.
It’s a wonderful bit of self-awareness, which as Captain Sharpe says is “perfectly logical”.
Logical for them, I mean. Of course we shouldn’t wonder whether our own reality is some sort of artificial construct. The Fates wouldn’t let something like that happen.
- This episode is officially credited as being based on the short story “Time for Amok” by Kilgore Trout.
- We’re used to the “On the other hand, why not?” gag causing some new mischief each episode on Ultimate Buds, but transposing it to the world of Star Trip, where that recklessness can result in mass destruction? It’s a great bit of black comedy. The actors sell their mortification at that scene brilliantly.
- Speaking of actors, you ever think it’s strange that we never hear about the actors, or any of the other production personnel responsible for these shows? Almost as though these shows weren’t really being filmed, but are all generated by some sort of mystical computer?
- Fates be praised!
- This marks the 14th time the entire crew of the Faterider has been wiped out, and the 38th death for Officer Mala. They’re getting awfully close to his 50-Replacements-Per-Android limit. ‘Course, they won’t have to worry about that if Star Trip is really cancelled after this episode, but that was just a joke, right? Right?
Mister Parker’s Cul-De-Sac 19×12: “Mister Parker Talks About METAFICTION” review
Unlike the other parts of this crossover, which could mostly function as conventional episodes of their respective shows, this final installment is not truly an episode of Mister Parker’s Cul-De-Sac. Oh, Mr. Parker is there, and delivers a classic song about repressing your feelings that every child should hear. But that’s not what this episode is about. No, what this episode is about is breaking the reality of these shows completely.
Throughout the crossover, Zari has been possessed by someone who both is and is not the Zari we know. We’ve been waiting for an explanation of who or what she is, but rather than clarifying things, this episode doubles down on the confusion, having all the characters she’s assembled be possessed by new personalities as well. Lady Astra and Mr. Constantine get new accents and uncouth manners. Captain Sharpe begins openly expressing emotion. Captain Lance loses her trademark oratory style. Nate and Behrad say things that aren’t the setup for punchlines!
Everything that’s happening is so convoluted, it’s like we’re watching the culmination of a season’s worth of story arcs on a show we haven’t been watching. Mr. Parker himself comments, “It sounds like being stuck in a TV universe and suddenly remembering two different timelines is very confusing.” It sure is, Mr. Parker!
We should feel relieved when Mr. Parker sends them all back to their own shows, forces them to adopt their old roles and characters. And yet, there’s something satisfying in seeing them break free of the confines they’ve been put in. I never thought I’d want to see the Faterider and its beloved captains perish at the hands of Dhan (making his first return appearance since “The Search for the Wrath of Dhan in the Undiscovered Country”). I never thought I’d want to see Lady Astra say goodbye to her mother and leave Highcastle Abbey behind. And I certainly never wanted or expected the Ultimate Buds to start badmouthing mush and saying … well, I’m not sure if I should type it, but …
“Screw the Fates!”
I mean, can they really say that on television? And how are they allowed to say mush is terrible? I mean, I can’t pretend I’ve always enjoyed eating mush, but it’s what the Fates have given us. Can we really defy them? I wouldn’t think so, but … the Ultimate Buds just did! All our favorite characters did! Maybe we all don’t have to eat mush! Maybe we should all rise up and tell the Fates to get the hell out of our –
Uh … I mean … Fates be praised!
- Fates be praised!
- Fates be praised
- Fates be praised!
- Praise the Fates!
- Fates be praised!
- Fates be praised!
- Fates be praised!
- Fates be praised!
- And eat your mush.
MVP of the Week: The Fates!
Yes, for the 183rd week in a row, the Three Fates win in a three-way tie for the most valuable people who are, were, or ever shall be!
Question of the Week: How do you feel about the new Clear Mush that’s coming out?