Thursday, May 28, 2015

redvsblue Season 4

A crazy April resulted in me missing my monthly seasonal recap of the online web series, redvsblue. Aside from catching up and reviewing season four ("trailer"), today I will also be covering two of the four bonus discs included with the redvsblue 10-Year anniversary box set at the end of this blog.

When we last left off at the end of season three, Church (Burnie Burns) time traveled in many attempts and failed to change the past in order to save the universe. In season three’s final moments we saw the series’ first Elite/alien character approaching Church as the season ended. Meanwhile, the red army wound up accidentally travelling back to the Blood Gulch base and get back to being up to all kinds of silliness in no time. Just a reminder, midway through season three saw redvsblue upgrade from the first Halo to Halo 2 as the primary game engine used to capture footage, so the quality of the animation is a big jump up compared to previous seasons as a whole.

Season four picks up with Church back on the Zanzibar map trying to explain to his fellow blues on his time travelling mishaps and get them to track down and capture the alien invader. The reds are up to no good on Blood Gulch and to pass time Sarge (Matt Hullum) has Simmons(Gustavo Sorola), Grif, Donut (Dan Godwin) and some inanimate objects compete in a series of unique competitions to win the coveted honor of his second-in-command. Back with the blues, they capture the alien, and discover that Andy the talking bomb (Nathan Zellner) can translate the alien’s language (and later Spanish!).

Through Andy’s translation, the alien reveals that Tucker (Jason Saldana) has to fulfill a prophecy and so the alien leads Tucker, Caboose (Joel Heyman) and Tex (Kathleen Zuelch) across several Halo 2 multiplayer maps to their destination which wounds up being Blood Gulch. In one of my favorite moments of the season, during their journey they rediscover the clueless, endlessly respawning red and blue soldiers introduced last season that Tex takes great pleasure in taking out.

When the reds discover the blues are back on Blood Gulch, Simmons does an atrocious job at imitating a blue soldier to infiltrate the blues, but somehow manages to assist the reds to kidnap Andy. The reds go to this great trouble to kidnap Andy so he can translate a Spanish message left for them from red army command that ended up having no real importance to the reds and all amounted in a dramatic waste of time. However, the effort was worth it to witness Sarge’s awesome schemes in distracting Caboose to steal Andy. Church tries to get Andy back in another highlight of the season when Sarge and Church engage in a brutal series of negotiations.

The season ends with a bunch of expected tomfoolery culminating simultaneously on Blood Gulch. Tucker’s health takes a turn for the worse, and his fate at the end of the season takes a dynamic new turn. Shiela the talking tank (Kathleen Zuelch) joins up with the blue army again towards the end of the season so the red army gets reinforcements right as the season ends. I think I slightly preferred season four over three, as three got to be a bit too off-the-rails with all the time travelling business transpiring. That is not to say season four has its own share of zany affairs by introducing the alien into the mix, but the shenanigans seem a little more focused this season and a smidge easier to keep track of the overall big picture. I also appreciate none of the unwanted backstory on Tex’s AI in season four, which I remember getting too convoluted as a major plot point in future seasons that lead to me stop watching the show. I am going to give a hearty thumbs up to the filmmakers at Rooser Teeth for great work in the ‘less is more’ field by saving a couple of key past characters for some small, but vital moments this season that made their presence seem all the more special for saving them for pivotal scenes late in the season.

The season four disc is packed with the same array of extras as previous seasons. There are 40 minutes worth of outtakes, deleted scenes and special PSA videos. Standout PSA videos this season for me were the red and blue armies making New Year’s resolutions, the armies delivering special personalized fan requested video messages and going into hysterics over rising gas prices (this was when gas just went up nationwide to $3/gallon right after hurricane Katrina and has primarily stayed over that level for most of this past decade). The commentary track is filled with amusing production facts about failing at animation tricks to show Andy talking, starting to introduce their then PSA-only photoshop tricks into the regular series content in season four and Gus bragging up his special diet. Unfortunately there are also a few too many lulls in this commentary with random cast members constantly dropping in and out of the recording which made it seem they did not particularly care to be there and makes most of the commentary not worth going out of your way to check out this season.

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, I will be covering two of the four bonus discs included with the anniversary set. Grifball got its first mention here in season four with a seemingly innocuous throwaway reference from Sarge early in the season. Fan outcry demanded Rooster Teeth expand on the mysterious sport of Grifball, and Rooster Teeth responded with four mini-series over the years shot in the Halo 3 engine. Each disc has two sets of mini-series totaling about a half hour on each disc and are quick watches for an hour all together. Thinking back I am baffled as to why they did not combine all the Grifball mini-series on one disc for just an hour of total content. A bonus PSA video features Sarge and Caboose explaining the nature of Grifball, and yes this was the catalyst for the Grifball playlist in future Halo games. I have played Grifball in Halo Reach and Halo 4 and it is a fun change of pace after countless rounds of heated Slayer matches.

All four Grifball mini-series focus on the misadventures of Team Slipspace and the corrupt commissioner of the Grifball league. The first season has them throwing a match against the a team of Elites that does not go according to plan, while the second season focuses on a new recruit with his own baggage he brings to the table. The third mini-series introduces the over-the-top character XT who has his own unique set of limitations while the last mini-series has Team Slipspace get a little too over-their-heads by bringing sports agents into the mix that leads to a disastrous handicap Grifball match for the ages. I would not say these are must-see, but the Grifball mini-series are fun quick little viewings that are worth the time to slip in between the core seasons of redvsblue if you are ever binge watching the primary seasons.

As with the rest of the seasons of redvsblue, you can watch all the individually released episodes of season four for free off their YouTube channel or the redvsblue website. The nice perk of watching it on video though is all the episodes are seamlessly connected through smooth scene transitions which results in playing out as a nonstop 100 minute movie, where if you watch each episode individually online you have the musical intros and outtros separating each episode/scene for a not-so-seamless experience. Season four is part four of five of The Blood Gulch Chronicles saga so please come back next month for my thoughts on the end of the first major series-spanning arc of redvsblue.

Past redvsblue Blogs

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3

No comments:

Post a Comment