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#ToddyAwards2018: Best TV Shows

#ToddyAwards2018: Best TV Shows

2018 was the year of the streaming series. For the geek, this was a wet dream of content. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pulled itself out of cancellation hell to score another two seasons after an incredible time/space storyline. Youtube Originals finally came into it’s own with two awesome standout series Impusle and OriginNetflix doubled down on original content, and even though they cancelled most of the Marvel series, Daredevil. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and yes, even Iron Fist delivered top-notch seasons. But the award has to go to The Expanse once again. Possibly the greatest sci-fi tv show since Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse continued the growing tension between Earth, Mars and The Belt leading to an incredible discovery and a bolt new direction by the end of the season. Sy Fy Channel had the balls to cancel the show, but luckily Amazon Prime made the save by picking up the series for season 4.

#ToddyAwards2017: Albums

#ToddyAwards2017: Albums

This was an awesome year in music for me. Boom Bap Hip-Hop seemed to see the start of a resurgence, I got to experience new artists like Sabrina Claudio, Niia and Snoh Aalegra, and I got to branch out and try out some new artists in different genres like AURORA, Dope Lemon and Glass Animals. But even though I branched out a bit, Hip-Hop and Indie Soul still populated my favorite albums. Most of the folks on this list are repeaters, but newcomer Sabrina Claudio took that top spot.

#ToddyAwards2017: TV Shows

#ToddyAwards2017: TV Shows

#ToddyAwards2017: Movies

#ToddyAwards2017: Movies

#ToddyAwards2016: My Favorite Comics

#ToddyAwards2016: My Favorite Comics

The Toddy Awards are my annual lists of my favorite things from the year. Everything here is off the top of my head. Not a lot of work put into it. I just like to recap the things I enjoyed in media. Normally I review comics, tv shows, movies, music, games and wrestling. But I might add a few more categories if there were new things I’ve experience.

Comic(s) of The Year: Vision

The the first few pages of Tom King’s classic 13 issue Vision, you know it’s all going to go horribly wrong. To be honest, I’ve never been a vision fan. He was already gone when I started getting into The Avengers in 2005. I knew of him, but I didn’t really know him. So when this book dropped, it really wasn’t on my radar. The book is about a synthetic humanoid who wants to experience the meaning of American Life and Family. So he creates the prototype nuclear family (a wife, two kids and a dog) and movies into the suburbs outside of Washington D.C. What happens next is the equivalent of pulling on a threat on your sweater and watching the entire garment unravel. A series of small events leave to a hailstorm of horrible incidents that (in a beatiful way) depicts the state of our society, and how perception can be different than what’s beneath the surface. The ending was a little anti-climatic, but very appropriate. The fact that he took a beloved character who is a staple of the Marvel Universe, pushed him into some deep, dark places and then found a way to reset his status quo, without any real damage.

My Favorite Comics of 2016

#ToddyAwards2016: My Favorite Games

#ToddyAwards2016: My Favorite Games

The Toddy Awards are my annual lists of my favorite things from the year. Everything here is off the top of my head. Not a lot of work put into it. I just like to recap the things I enjoyed in media. Normally I review comics, tv shows, movies, music, games and wrestling. But I might add a few more categories if there were new things I’ve experience. 

Overall Game(s) of The Year (t):
Civilization VI / Master of Orion

Let me confess something: I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Civilization VI was going to be my favorite game of 2016 when it was first announced in 2015. Period. I’ve been playing Civ since Civilization II was released back in 1996.  But then, something happened.. This 4X space game Master of Orion: Conquer the Universe was released on Mac at the same time it was released for PC. And from that first double-cross ambush but rival alien race, I was hooked! The second half of 2016 had me going back and forth between Civ6 and MoO:CtU, living in 4x game ecstasy. Civilization VI was more methodical. If it weren’t for my love of micr0-managing, i’d have to say it was boring. But there was something about spending 8-10 hours building up your civilization just in time to defend your people against the onslaught of rival civilizations. Master of Orion seemed to take the Civ formula, chop out a lot of the fat, and give you this lean, mean galaxy building. Even playing favorites like Madden 17, WWE 2k17 and XCom 2, I’d have to say these two games garnered most of my game time.


Mobile Game of The Year: Marvel Future Fight

I’m a sucker for iOS ‘freemium’ games. Combine that with characters from the Marvel Universe, and I’m totally hooked. Over the past few years, Marvel has released slew of mobile games (Marvel Contest of Champions and Marvel Puzzle Quest to name a couple), mostly getting you to buy the extra perks to progress in the games faster. And it’s worked. I’m embarrassed to say how much money i’ve spent to level up my characters. Future Fight is your standard 3D Double Dragon style action game, sending teams of Marvel’s heroes and villains into the streets and secret bases to beat up thugs until you reach the end boss. A little repetitive, but the real charm is in the character collecting. Unlocking more powers for Iron Man or Spider-man to use seems to be the main draw. Out of all the phone and tablet games I tried this year, Marvel Future Fight is the one that had me in bed trying to clear levels before I fell asleep.

#ToddyAwards2015: Comics

#ToddyAwards2015: Comics

Comic(s) of The Year:
Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers

Normally, I’d have a single comic series to highlight as my favorite of the year. But the past two years have been dominated by one man’s run on Marvel’s iconic franchise, The Avengers. Jonathan Hickman took over Earth’s Mightiest Heroes from another of my favorites, Brian Michael Bendis. From the start, Hickman took what Bendis left and amped up the stakes by a thousand. While the previous run dealt with a division of the group, Hickman brought them back together and expanded the roster to an enormous size. To deal with bigger threats, The Avengers had to get bigger (quoted from Tony Stark)… and from the start, the threat was epic.

Even though The Avengers, New Avengers and Avengers World all started for different points, they were all a part of Jonathan Hickman’s patented brand of long-form storytelling. He began a two-year adventure of telling the story of the premature end of the Marvel Universe. The three part act (Everything Dies, Time Runs Out and Secret Wars) was a masterful job of plotting out a grand story. Similar to his excellent run on The Fantastic Four, Hickman planted seeds along the narrative off all three books and eventually brought them together to tell the death of the universe from three different perspective. The Avengers told the story of Captain America and Iron Man as they built an army of Avengers and classified them to deal with specific threats. The New Avengers was the continuing adventures of the Super Hero Secret Society known as The Illuminati, who discovered the threat of colliding universes and took on the doomed task of trying to stop it. Built on The Avengers premise, Avengers World told the stories of three specific teams of Avengers trying to simultaneously stop three major threats around the world. The machinations (and morally grey actions) of The Illuminti come to a head, as once again it’s Avengers against Avengers, separated on moral grounds on how to deal with the situation.


The Rest of The Pack

#ToddyAwards2015: Movies

#ToddyAwards2015: Movies

Movie of the Year: Dope
Dope

It seems a lot of my favorites this year came out of nowhere. The element of surprise might be that extra added ingredient that keeps these things in my brain. Rick Famyiwa‘s Dope was that movie for me. The modern day coming-of-aged story of 3 high school punk rock nerds, who are obsessed with 90’s Hip-Hop and navigate the streets of Inglewood, California feels very personal to me for many reasons. Firstly, this film is shot very honestly on location in the neighborhood, which I grew up in. Secondly, push this story back to the 80’s and you pretty much got my life growing up. Alongside the excellent Hip-Hop soundtrack (featuring my favorites like Nas, A Tribe Called Quest and Disable Planets), is originals songs produced by Pharrell that serves at the main characters’ nerd angst.

I know this list is long, but this was a very good year for movies. From excellently filmed, directed and acted projects, to ridiculously braindead fun. I enjoyed movies across the entire spectrum this year. NOTE: Keep in mind that there were A LOT of movies I didn’t get to. Concussion, Bridge of Spies, Spotlight, The Revenant and others are still in the cue to check out.

The Rest of The Pack

#ToddyAwards 2015: TV Shows

#ToddyAwards 2015: TV Shows

Television Show of The Year: Mr. Robot
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Mr. Robot was my ‘holy shit!’ moment in television this year. Without any warning, the pilot showed up on Youtube. Why did I watch it? I have no idea. It was there, so  i decided to check out a few minutes. By the time to hour was up, I was angry there wasn’t more to watch. Is Elliot actually Mr. Robot? Does he have some time of mental disorder? Is he being played by the evil Corporate establishment? I didn’t know what the hell to think. And I didn’t care. All i knew was it looked gorgeous and wonderfully acted. Somehow, Sam Esmail manages to mix elements of Dexter and Fight Club, with the look and feel of a Kubrick film into a stylist cyber-noir mystery series.


Young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer during the day, but at night he is a vigilante hacker. He is recruited by the mysterious leader of an underground group of hackers to join their organization. Elliot’s task? Help bring down corporate America, including the company he is paid to protect, which presents him with a moral dilemma. Although he works for a corporation, his personal beliefs make it hard to resist the urge to take down the heads of multinational companies that he believes are running — and ruining — the world.


Rest of The Pack

#ToddyAwards2015: Music

#ToddyAwards2015: Music

Album Of The Year: Dornik

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It’s been years since I’ve enjoyed full albums. There have been great ‘songs’ all the time, but i’ve picked and choose them from lackluster projects. But 2015 gave us a return to artist making music for the love of it, and just just four singles and some filler to sell on iTunes. Groups and Hiatus Kaiyote, The Internet, and Moonchild seemed to shine through and deliver some stellar work. But I have to say Dornik’s debut was the killer album for me this year. If Off The Wall era Michael Jackson and Controversy era Prince had a love child, Dornik’s self-entitle 11-track album would be that child. Stand In Your Line and Drive have been in heavy rotation ever since a friend on Facebook hipped me to it.

The Rest of the Pack

#ToddyAwards 2015: Games

#ToddyAwards 2015: Games

Game Of The Year: Batman Arkham Knight

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I can say that Batman: Arkham Knight gave me the most sleepless nights. It had a near perfect control scheme, an engaging storyline that kept you guessing until the end, and  fabulous, well-round gameplay (even though, there could’a been a little less of the Batmobile/Tank stuff). If the mystery of who The Arkham Knight was didn’t keep you glued to the screen, the major shocker of a twist toward the middle of the game, knocked you out of your seat. What amazed me the most was the depth of the control scheme. The upgrade system showed how Batman’s fighting style and arsenal were extremely deep, almost intimidating. But the more you played, the more all his special movies and gadgets became second nature. Throw in an incredibly large open-world with a ton of cookie-cutter thugs to beat up, and you might have one hell of a fitting end to the Batman Arkham Trilogy.


The Rest of the Pack

#ToddyAwards2015: Guilty Pleasure (TV): Z Nation

#ToddyAwards2015: Guilty Pleasure (TV): Z Nation

I know.. I know.. Yes,  It’s a unsubtle attempt at cashing in our the Walking Dead crazy. Yes, it’s a cheesy drama with cheesy writing and cheesy characters that you’d usually find in a video game. But you what? I like it. In fact Z Nation has become one of my Friday TV guilty pleasure.

Granted, I found it really hard to get through season 1. Any expectation of getting anything close to The Walking Dead kind of went away by the mid-season. It ranked a little higher than most of the Sy Fy Original zombie movies they periodically released. And when season 2 started, I kept watching out of habit. But I have to admit, the show really got it’s groove in season 2. I can’t say that it got ‘better’. But it started to feel a lot more comfortable with itself.


Z Nation begins three years into a virus-caused zombie apocalypse, which has already killed most humans. A group must transport Murphy, the only known survivor of a zombie bite who did not himself turn into a zombie, from New York to the world’s last known functioning research lab in California. Murphy had been the unwilling subject of a government test vaccine in the days just before society fell apart, and his blood contains antibodies that are mankind’s last and best hope for a vaccine. However, Murphy harbors a dark secret that threatens them all.

#ToddyAwards2015: Wrestling Match of the Year: IWGP Jr. Tag Championship

#ToddyAwards2015: Wrestling Match of the Year: IWGP Jr. Tag Championship

reDRagon (c) vs. Forever Hooligans vs. Time Splitters vs. The Young Bucks

The last time I saw a match that was so crazy it made me tired was an early ROH match between Amazing Red and Loki. Two performers at the top of their game giving it all they had. Someone passed a video tape to me and at that moment, I was a big ROH fan. Since then, I’ve seen some good matches, but nothing that would warrant me shouting ‘OH SHIT!’ at the top of my lungs.

The only reason I was tuning into New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 9, to hear the return of Jim Ross to calling matches. It was a one-time deal so I wanted to hear Good Ole J.R. one last time. I didn’t know anything about the card. And the only person I had any familiarity with was Alex Shelley, who wrestled with Chris Saban as the Motor City Machine Guns. I vaguely remember the Young Bucks from their short stint in WWE as Hardy Boys knock offs. But as a whole, I didn’t expect much.

From start the finish, all four teams showed why they were possibly the best in-ring workers on the planet at that time. The sheer amount of signature moves made the 14 minute match seem epic. This should’ve been a main event instead of an opening match, In the end, the redDragons finished off the Forever Hooligan with the Chasing The Dragon finisher to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. If there was a way for me to watch New Japan Pro-Wrestling on a regular basis, this match would’ve sealed the deal.

STREAM THE MATCH HERE

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Romero hit the Forever Clothesline (multiple corner clotheslines) and double clotheslines on his opponents. A series of dives out of the ring culminated in Kushida diving from the turnbuckles onto his opponents on the floor. Although Time Splitters followed with a neckbreakermoonsault combination on Nick, the pin was broken up at two. The Young Bucks started a Superkick Party (multiple superkicks) and continued with a Meltzer Driver (assisted Tombstone piledriver) on Koslov, but the pin was again broken up. ReDRagon took over with a backbreaker and diving knee drop on Shelley, a double arm DDT and wheelbarrow suplex on Matt and a super falcon arrow by Fish on Nick. first Chasing the Dragon kick/brainbuster combination attempt was countered by an inside cradle by Koslov for a two count, but the second Chasing the Dragonattempt succeeded; O’Reilly pinned Koslov a second time to retain the title at 13 minutes and 1 second.

<strong>#ToddyAwards</strong> Wrestler of the Year: Sasha Banks

<strong>#ToddyAwards</strong> Wrestler of the Year: Sasha Banks

I’ve had a love/hate relationships with wrestling the past couple years. Though it use to be a great guilty pleasure for me, the past few years have seen a big decline in in-ring performance and more focus on drama and storylines. That’s all good, but the main thing that made me fall in love with the faux sport was telling great battles inside the ring. Even though there are other organizations that focus on the ring and not the all the other stuff, there’s no denying the WWE is the face of Professional Wrestling. Granted, I did see excellent matches from places like NJPW, ROH and (and very sparingly TNA), but not being able to watch these shows on a regular basis limited my access to a lot of wrestlers. Thanx to folks like The Young Bucks, Jay Lethal and Samoa Joe, my interest in wrestling has stayed in the back on my brain.

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But there’s one wrestler that’s reinvigorated my need to make an hour available every week for wrestling. WWE Diva Sasha Banks has been a huge bright spot, not only in women’s wrestling, but wrestling in general. There’s not denying she’s hot and provocative.. most of the WWE Divas fit that criteria, but it’s more about what she does once the bell rings. My monthly WWE Network subscription is based on one thing.. getting access to NXT. It was there that I got to see Charlotte Flair (daughter of The Nature Boy, Rick Flair), feud with this cocky redhead named Sasha Banks. I tuned in to see the next generation of Flair, but stayed each week afterwards to see what ‘The Boss’ would do next. Her feuds with Charlotte and (later) Bayley were classics, reminding me of the last time I was excited by wrestling (the Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels feud).

Since Sasha’s been moved up to the main RAW roster, she’s been absent from any type of exposure (read: Sasha Banks Must Replace Paige in Feud with Divas Champion Charlotte), I don’t know what the hell WWE Creative is doing. The current Charlotte (new WWE Diva’s Champ) and Paige isn’t really working well. Judging from Sasha’s previous rivalry with Charlotte, it would seem to be a no-brainer to make it happen again. With most of their top stars out filming movies or on the injured list, WWE needs a charismatic start like Sasha Banks to get people invigorate again in their product.

Runner ups: The Young Bucks | Jay Lethal | Kevin OwensreDRagon

 

ToddyAwards2014: Games

ToddyAwards2014: Games

It’s that time of year again. The 4th Annual Toddy Awards is underway. For those who know, The Toddy Awards is exactly as it sounds. These are my favorite things of the year broken down into real geeky categories (i.e. comics,  tv, movies, games, etc.).

The theme of my gaming experience for 2014 was ‘replayability’. On one side, I found myself continuing to play games that I’ve been loving from the past year. Games like XCOM and State of Decay came out with DLC that kept me going. Mobile games became a big time zapper during commutes. Marvel Puzzle Quest and Civilization Revolution 2 might’ve got the most hours out of me overall. Even the re-release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the iPhone and iPad had me pick up a lightsaber and enjoying the game just as much as I had on the original Xbox. Those go-to franchise games, WWE 2K15, Madden 15 and Grand Theft Auto V were automatic purchases.. even though I didn’t play them as much as I wanted to.

But the big winner for me.. even though it was released in the latter part of 2014, is Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’ve only got 5-8 hours of gameplay under my belt but i’m already in love with this open-world super quest. I’m guessing with amount of side quest and the inevitable DLC coming, I’ll probably be playing this possibly into 2016.    — Todd Kelley