Author: Jenny Varner

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10 Rick and Morty Gadgets We Wish We Had IRL

Which gadget do you most wish to own for yourself?

By Jenny Varner[1]

There is no knowing where Rick and Morty[2] will end up in Season 3, which premiered this weekend on Adult Swim. Regardless of circumstance, fans of the animated series know that Earth C-137 Rick Sanchez always has a futuristic gadget or two cooked up to save his day.

From manipulating time to breaking the hearts of an entire planet, here are the top 10 gadgets viewers wish they could own from the misadventures of Rick and Morty:

Which gadget is your favorite? Let us know in the comments if you would use this advanced tech for good or for…Rick purposes.

Jenny Varner is a Texan-turned-Californian who desperately misses her queso. You can catch her tweeting about TV @itsjenvar[3] or up in the skies fending off sharks from the Batcopter.


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Santa Clarita Diet Review


”That was an insane amount of vomit.”

By Jenny Varner[1]

This is a spoiler-free review for all 10 episodes of Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1[2]. For those who’ve finished and want to read my spoiler-y thoughts on the end, along with some other story specific details, you can head over to the Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 Spoiler Discussion Page[3].

Netflix has dropped ten episodes of the new half-hour comedy Santa Clarita Diet, and it’s primed for a great binge session for those wishing to jump in this weekend. Since we have all been beaten over the head (literally for certain Walking Dead characters…) with the influx of hyper-gory zombie stories, I can assure you now this isn’t one of those. Located about 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles, the uptight suburban setting of Santa Clarita makes any crude sex joke or physical gag that much more cringeworthy and entertaining.

The series, from Better Off Ted creator Victor Fresco, follows married realtors Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) as they grapple with a life-changing revelation — Sheila has become one of the undead.

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Before we need to jump into a study of the human psyche, most people are aware of the basic traits of any modern undead zombie. They’re impulsive, they are instinctual, and they eat human flesh. As such, you can imagine the various ways the writers get to play with a more “human” character that follows their Id. Drew Barrymore takes lead in her quick transformation; going from uptight and self-doubting to sex-crazed and curious all within the first few minutes of the pilot.

Her skin is radiant, she hasn’t felt this alive.. .ever! The irony is all there.

That’s where the advantages of being one of the undead stops. Attempts to satiate her appetite with raw beef or chicken isn’t cutting it; as the trailers have revealed, she only has a taste for human. Sheila takes no time in feasting on her first victim, in a shocking moment that is the most comically gruesome of the season. Sheila and Joel quickly realize that sourcing flesh for her appetite will be difficult — and messy — and decide that proactive action must be taken. Taking a page from Dexter, they focus their initial efforts on targeting “deserving” people for her feast. It doesn’t take long for their plans to go awry, and both have to figure out their personal priorities as Sheila’s condition continues to progress.

The rest of the supporting characters take a little longer to embrace the life-altering shift, but it all comes together quite nicely in establishing each person in context of the central undead issue. Their daughter Abby (played by Liv Hewson) has to go through her rebellious teenager phase while her mother and father are a little too preoccupied to notice, while influencing her geeky neighbor Eric (Skyler Gisondo) to tag along on her new adventures. His fascination with the paranormal creates a great dynamic, serving as a source of information as the family discovers the various changes that Sheila is experiencing.

From Dexter to Jack Bauer, Santa Clarita Diet tiptoes on Family Guy territory with the volume of pop culture references and cameos. While this can make the dialogue a bit tiresome, I was consistently excited to see which guest star I would recognize next. Nathan Fillion plays Sheila’s new co-worker Gary, a fellow good-looking realtor who recently moved to Santa Clarita. Joel takes notice of Gary, allowing Olyphant to play someone more neurotic than analyzing the knobs on toaster ovens. The moments between Gary and Joel aren’t as badass as it would be with Malcolm Reynolds facing off against Raylan Givens, but they were certainly a factor in my claiming dibs on reviewing this show when it was announced.

With a little bit of mystery tying things together, I was able to binge the episodes without breaking a sweat. The flow between each episode is very much in the Netflix mode, which in some ways I would argue is a weakness for the story as a whole. I will discuss more on that in the spoiler section! This show was definitely made with the IGN audience in mind. If you are a fan of either of the leads, Santa Clarita Diet is worth a place at the top of your queue.

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1

The Verdict

Netflix has it down to a science. With two strong leads in Barrymore and Olyphant, there’s enough strong acting and pop culture overlap to pique any interest. Mix in a supernatural element and enough gross out humor to drop your jaw, and the result is an enjoyable first season to a promising new comedy.

Editors’ Choice

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Santa Clarita Diet Spoiler Discussion

Hungry for more?

By Jenny Varner[1]

Welcome to the full-spoiler discussion page for the first season of Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet[2]. This is for those who’ve watched all 10 episodes and want to read my thoughts about plot specifics or comment down below about the finale or any other spoiler-ific aspect of the show. To go back to the non-spoilery side of things, click here to read the full Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 Review[3].

Ok, I didn’t get to reiterate this in the spoiler-free review, but HOLY CRAP that was a LOT of vomit. Do you ever wonder how extreme things could get in this world? I never imagined having to think about vomit in that context. The only thing that came out of that scene (puns!) was the storyline with the “red ball.” I loved the small vs medium joke that came later in the season, but I was disappointed we didn’t get a better understanding of it by the end of the ten episodes.

Sandwiching the family home between two officers of the law was pretty clever. I loved the immediate tension created by the feuding “police vs sheriff” banter, especially when the focus started to shift onto the undoings of our protagonists. Anyone can connect to the feeling of being overly-questioned, and it played into the paranoia of hiding such a massive (and murderous) secret.

Skyler Gisondo is fantastic as the nerdy teenage neighbor, Eric. He goes from a “creeper” to stepping up to the plate when he is needed most. I had a great time watching all of the characters’ transformations, but the Churro Saber at the Paranormalcon put it over the top for me.

I briefly mentioned Fillion’s guest starring role in the pilot, but I’m pretty sure we all knew he was dead meat from the time we saw his handsome face stroll through that real estate office. Any challenge to the relationship between Sheila and Joel is episodically squashed, and he was clearly the first victim. I had similar thoughts about Tom Lennon’s fate as the principal of Abby’s high school, but luckily we may get to see him in future episodes. The scene in his office discussing Abby’s truancy was one of my favorite moments of the whole season, as it was EXACTLY how you would expect the worst meeting with a school principal could’ve gone.

At some point, you start to see how they’re setting things up for the second season. That’s generally when my attention span wanes, as I know the finale can’t ever be as final as it could be. Can we speculate on the “red ball,” please? I imagine it’s her shrunken, bloodless heart, and it has to be reanimated at some point. I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of that though, since The Strain has used a similar parallel in recent seasons for it’s undead.

I really wanted more of the ancient Serbian lore that Joel was investigating. That plot cooled in the middle of the season, and I felt it took too long for Sheila to get on board with finding a cure. Again, saving Portia de Rossi for the finale was fine, but I wish they could’ve gotten the book from her and kept pushing forward in explaining things before getting split apart indefinitely.

They must have been acutely aware of premiere date, or they just got really lucky. I don’t think it was a coincidence they make a Super Bowl joke in the finale of the season. You would assume people break this up over a weekend, presumably finishing on a Sunday.

“Yelling at birds was Grandma Jenny’s thing.” I had to include this line for posterity, since I do frequently complain of Pidgeys ruining my walk. There were a lot of great lines in this show, many of which played into the back-and-forth nature of the dialogue. I didn’t feel the need to round out any conversation with a pop culture reference, so maybe these more bizarre callbacks to our family’s past will come to light in Season 2.


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  3. ^ Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 Review (
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Fuller House: Season 2 Review


Admit it, you just got the theme song stuck in your head again…

By Jenny Varner

As the first review from my new post in IGN’s San Francisco office, I found it fitting that the Fuller family should welcome me to their city. With thirteen new episodes primed and ready to binge on Netflix, Season 2[1] was a particularly easy watch for this fan of the 90’s original series. The first season of Fuller House was enjoyed at Casa Varner, so expectations were high this past weekend, as Season 2 made its debut.

Leaning into the most severe sitcom tropes, Fuller House is certainly a love-it or leave-it kind of show. Many modern family sitcoms have left behind most of the more exaggerated approaches to comedy (i.e. laugh tracks) but Fuller House does not set out to be a modern example. Nothing is left on the table — from breaking the fourth wall to dream sequences, Fuller House takes what the original series created and turns it up to 11.

Season 2 kicks off reuniting the characters back at the iconic Tanner family household, citing various summer activities for their departures. While it made sense for the kids to be gone all summer, watching the adults reunite as if they had been gone as well is a little jarring. This isn’t the last time the kids are upstaged by the adults. DJ and Kimmy are notorious in living vicariously through their children; Kimmy going as far as attending 5 of the 6 weeks of Ramona’s dance camp. The series struggles in finding comedic moments between parent and child, and it’s not like Aunt Stephanie is running around with a woodchuck puppet to lighten the mood.

The most welcomed addition to the family is Fernando, played by series regular Juan Pablo Di Pace. We met Fernando at the end of season one as Kimmy’s racecar driver fiancee and estranged father to Ramona. Fernando’s enthusiastic assertion back into their lives creates the first major arc of the season; as he insists on moving into the Tanner/Gibbler household while working things out with Kimmy. (Remember those bad tropes? Bending over in a short pink robe, the family is exposed to Fernando’s… pixelated parts. Actually pixelated.)

In spite of his nonsensical nature, Fernando’s presence this season is seriously necessary. With two moms (plus non-parent, too-cool-to-be-fun Aunt Stephanie) in the house, Fuller House goes against every other 90’s sitcom that consciously omitted the “buzzkill” mother figure (including its predecessor!) Season 1 tried to break that stereotype by showing our leading ladies as everyday working women, but that doesn’t necessarily add up to laughs. Fernando’s over-the-top characteristics push beyond any normal parenting trope, and allows the writers to use him in “Uncle Joey” moments, even if he is a parent himself. Antiquated television politics aside, the scenes between Fernando and DJ’s son Max (Elias Harger) were some of the most heartwarming moments of the season, as they ultimately parent each other…and you better believe they hugged it out!

People love this show for its heart, and the stories that feel like a warm hug by the end of the episode. In Season 1, viewers learned that Stephanie is unable to have children. This season, her cheeseball romance with neighbor Jimmy Gibbler (yes, really) takes on a new level as she looks at their long-term future with a different lens.

The highlight of the season is the Halloween episode. Not only do you get a great moment for Stephanie and Jimmy to bond over pranking kids in a haunted house, but viewers are also treated to a throwback homage to I Love Lucy. Kimmy and Fernando dress up as the iconic duo, and even perform Babalu and a scene in black and white that contributes to the best classic reference of the season.

Attempting to list every guest star this season would be near impossible. We get three episodes with various members of the classic “Full House” cast, including Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit reprising their roles as Nicky and Alex Katsopolis. We also meet Joey’s magician wife, his four talented kids, as well as an adopted baby for Jesse and Becky. We also get cameos from the likes of Alan Thicke, Dancing With the Stars’ Bruno Tonioli, and NKOTB. Can you tell which one would pull a golden “10” paddle out of his pants?

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Keep in mind this is a 2016 sitcom that wants to be a 90’s sitcom. As uneven as that statement reads, the pop culture references are worse. In one scene the viewer is expected to laugh at DJ using the fake name “Sinead O’Connor” at an Irish wedding, and the next Kimmy is catching a Pokemon on her phone on live TV. Given my personal knowledge of Sinead extends to her tearing up a picture on SNL, it doesn’t seem like a reference that hits the Netflix demographic.

The character moments are what work– not the 2016 references or the talking dog gags (yes, REALLY.) The absence of Michelle at the Tanner family Thanksgiving shouldn’t be felt at all, given the wealth of characters already on screen. Breaking the fourth wall to call out the Olsen twins’ absence is not only insulting to the actors inhabiting the scene, but also to the passive viewer trying to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with one of their favorite families. There is a time and a place for side-eyes and subtweeting, and it isn’t in an episode.

To that end, there were more than enough cool callbacks to the original series. My personal favorite is DJ’s high school boyfriend Viper, a washed up rocker that considered DJ “the one that got away.” It serves a humorous break in the nonsense that is DJ’s love life this season — an overdrawn Season 1 plotline that also extends the full length of Season 2. It doesn’t matter who DJ choses in the end, as long as she makes up her damn mind.

The Verdict

Fuller House Season 2[2] brings a fuller cast, a fuller plot, and a lot more cringe-worthy pop culture jokes. Love it or hate it, the staying power of this heartwarming Netflix staple is stronger than ever.

Editors’ Choice


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Beauty and the Beast: Live-Action and Animated Comparison

Be our guest and check them out.

By Jenny Varner

We’ve had our first glimpse at the live-action retelling of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast[1], and judging by the new trailer it looks as iconic as we had hoped.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most recognizable moments from the new trailer, paired with their animated scenes from the beloved 1991 original.

Beauty and the Beast — starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, and the voices of Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw — opens in the US and UK on March 17, 2017 and in the AU on March 23, 2017.


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