And if you have a little brother, you might find yourself compelled by those big brown eyes to watch it, despite your better judgement. #askhowIknow
In all honesty, though, is RvB really that bad? Well…it has some content “not for mothers-in-law“, but it also has a lot of powerful, heart-moving themes.
You gotta decide if you’re up to getting there.
This might sound weird, but RvB is a Halo-based Machinima where two teams of soldiers camp on opposite sides of a valley in color-coordinated teams (yes…Red and Blue). It streams free on YouTube (in five-minute episodes organized into seasons), but is also available in DVD format.
I gather that early on, it was basically an excuse for cheap skits and foul-mouthed jokes while these pathetic losers tried unsuccessfully to kill each other.
But I wasn’t brought in until Season 6…when they actually start telling a cohesive story.
What is that story?
Well, I can just skip the part with the lame jokes and jump to the plot-part, right?
Um…It might help if you had a younger brother who’d obsessively watched it already who can hover at your shoulder and explain who everyone is, and which lines or actions are referring back to the early seasons.
The best part is probably the characters. (Okay, strictly speaking, the best part is Caboose.)
Blake Snyder says you have to differentiate your characters – so give everyone “a hook and an eyepatch”…i.e. give them a distinguishing characteristic.
This is really hard when your characters are all encased in space armor (e.g. one of them is Red, and another is Maroon).
Some of the voice actors also sound similar, and if you don’t notice whose helmet is moving, how can you tell who’s talking?
Characteristics! And, frankly, the personality quirks and defining catch-phrases are through the roof. At times, all eight+ team members will give a one-line reaction to an event, and you know exactly who’s saying what, even if you didn’t catch the intonation.
And what do small but memorable idiosyncrasies produce? Emotional attachment, of course!
Know what else produces emotional attachment?
Yeah, the Reds and Blues regularly scheme to kill each other, and constantly talk about how much they hate each other. They’re also all pathetic, bottom-percentile soldiers who are mostly interested in coasting along with company-funded supplies and not doing any actual work (or in picking up babes).
But they change. Sometimes it takes them a whole season to do it…but the sad, uninspiring, selfish bleeps we meet in the beginning are something else by the end.
Competent? Well, maybe not that. But heroic?
The Good Parts
Heroism is a good part. Another good part is the fight scenes (especially the good fight scenes; a few are too short to be fully good).
It is also awesome when Sarge makes long, inspiring speeches…because he’s good at that. (And because normally he’s wishing death on his own teammate and grumbling pompously.)
The humor might have made me snicker, but I won’t admit it.
The plotting is excellent – with set-ups and pay-offs perfectly balanced. Tension ratchets just like it should, with characters you love in serious danger.
It may be a comedy series, but they don’t shy from pushing the stakes to the limit.
Another awesome thing?
Cliff-hangers and I (like Romance and I) are almost in open war. But the RvB team, far from stringing you from season to season with stupid story non-resolution, repeatedly ties up all loose ends and tries to finish the series.
Like, two or three times they roll the credits and let the characters ride off into the sunset, as though saying, “Well, that was fun. Now for something differ–”
And then they had to come back and write more episodes. Which work flawlessly into the meta-narrative, by the way…but it’s so refreshing when creatives say, “You’ve hung with us for this Season Trilogy – so here’s some story closure!” And they let it be closure.
Until my little brother drags me back to the computer for the next story arc.
Yes, this is absolutely the sort of thing that would be blocked by our internet safe-search back when we were under 18. There’s regular bad language (including f-bombs and profanities) and the occasional violence is…well, not exactly “graphic”, since everyone (essentially everyone) is in head-to-toe space armor – but the violence is there. There’re also sexual references from time to time – but again, everyone’s encased in full-body space armor.
My mom reads gritty spy novels, but I really don’t think she’d enjoy this — certainly not to sit through 9ish seasons of it.
You have to make your own decisions about your own tolerances. I certainly would hesitate before putting it in front of a minor. But for someone more mature? I think it has some redeeming qualities.
But how can I possibly talk about themes without giving spoilers for the story?
Ugh…okay: single word associations. RvB talks about:
- Love (and losing the one you love)
- Soldiers following orders
- Soldiers’ responsibility for their actions
- Competition (and dealing with jealousy)
- Artificial intelligences, and their unique psycho/emotional struggles
What adventures do they go on with their friends? Well, they topple a rogue government program of super-soldiers. They track down the program’s sociopathic and demented director. With awesome teamwork, they stop a power-hungry, A.I.-maddened super-soldier. They resolve a civil war, save an entire planet’s population from genocide, and crash a spaceship into an alien temple.
Basically, they do lots of things. (But not if they all get killed, because that totally might happen, too! No spoilers, or anything!)
Sometimes, the things they do just make me snort and hold my hand over my mouth to hide me smiling.
And sometimes those things give me goosebumps all over because when a bunch of unwanted, selfish, idiotic, and dysfunctional army-rejects work together to be heroic, it’s awesome.
Just don’t tell my brother I said that.
He’ll want me to watch the next season…
P.S. My BABY BROTHER had a birthday this past week. He is now OLD ENOUGH TO BUY A GUN – OR ALCOHOL. *shiver*
You can watch the series on YouTube for free…the only cost is to your sanity and propriety. (This link starts you at Season 6 Episode 1.)
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