TV REVIEW: Star Vs the Forces of Evil Season 4

written by David Steffen

Star Vs. the Forces of Evil is an action comedy cartoon about an interdimensional mage-warrior princess (Eden Sher) who was sent to Earth for a while where she made friends with earthling Marco Diaz (Adam McArthur) . Season 1 was previously reviewed here, Season 2 reviewed here, and Season 3 reviewed here. Season 4, the final season of the series, aired between March 2019 and May 2019. This review will have spoilers for previous seasons.

Season 3 ended with the resolution of an epic threat against the kingdom of Mewni from the half-monster half-Mewman Meteora (Jessica Walter) is achieved when her mother Eclipsa (Esmé Bianco) casts a spell that reduces her to a baby. Star, who had been acting queen because her mother Moon (Grey Griffin) is missing, cedes the throne to Eclipsa who is the rightful queen of Mewni, who has been imprisoned in a crystal for hundreds of years, also giving her the family wand as her rightful property. Eclipsa immediately begins work reversing many of the laws that supported the royal family’s anti-monster sentiment, as Eclipsa’s beloved is a monster, and her daughter a half-monster. Meanwhile, Star and Marco search for Moon based on a series of half-formed rumors about sightings of her. Eclipsa’s beloved, Globgor (Jaime Camil), is imprisoned in crystal and she has not succeeded in freeing him.

Everything that the series has built up to comes to a head in this season. It still has a lot of fun and moments of levity, but the stakes are higher than ever. Again at the end of the last season the world as we know it has been upturned with the succession leaving Eclipsa in charge of the kingdom, and Star and her parents shown to be descendents of impostors to the throne. With the threat of Meteora gone, new threats arise, threats that put the very existence of Mewni in question.

I love this show so much, I highly recommend it!

TV REVIEW: Star Vs the Forces of Evil Season 3

written by David Steffen

Star Vs. the Forces of Evil is an action comedy cartoon about an interdimensional mage-warrior princess (Eden Sher) who was sent to Earth for a while where she made friends with earthling Marco Diaz (Adam McArthur) . Season 1 was previously reviewed here, and Season 2 reviewed here. Season 3 aired between July 2017 and April 2018. This review will have spoilers for previous seasons.

Some context from Season 2: It is traditional for princesses in the Mewni royal family to have a princess song written about them when they come of age. Most of the songs are vapid fluff pieces, but Star insisted that the piece should have substance. But this idea backfires when the song reveals the major family secret that Star lost the book of spells that has been handed down from generation to generation, and Glossaryck the magical guide to the book, as well as revealing that Star has a crush on Marco. These revelations cause riots among the citizens of Mewni for their Queen Moon (Grey Griffin) keeping secrets from them, and the news of Star’s crush drives a wedge between her and Marco. Shortly after, the villain Toffee (Michael C. Hall) in control of their common enemy Ludo’s (Alan Tudyk) body manages to suck the souls from the Magical High Commission, the highest magical authority, leaving any sort of authority in shambles. Star leaves Earth to deal with matters on Mewni, leaving Marco behind.

The series has always had short episodes that often have seemingly random unrelated plots but has also had building of overarching consequences, and the end of season 2 is the most catastrophic of them all, breaking up the dream team of Star and Marco, leaving the Butterfly family’s most powerful villain on the loose with the magical authority disabled, Season three starts off with the stakes already high and our heroes’ support system in disarray. I loved the series since the start, but Season three shows how intense it can really be, while still having plenty of fun and silliness that is also a great part of the show. I highly recommend it!

BOOK REVIEW: Gravity Falls Journal 3 by Alex Hirsch and Rob Renzetti

written by David Steffen

20161231_163401Have you seen the Disney XD show Gravity Falls, created by Alex Hirsch?  If you haven’t, you should!  And you should probably do it before you read this book, because it’s a tie-in that will have major spoilers for the show–I think it will generally work better watching the show first, and then reading the book.  Here’s a review of the show.

OK, so now you’ve caught up on the show, right?  So this is that journal, the one that Dipper discovers and uses a guide to the town of Gravity Falls through the duration of the series, and the author of which is a major mystery of the show.

20161231_163308I don’t usually talk much about book design in the reviews, but this book is really really nice.  Usually I’m kindof ambivalent about book jackets, because I’m honestly not sure what purpose they serve.  But in this case, the book jacket includes all the stuff that you would expect to see on a book cover–the title on the cover, the title on the spine, the blurbs on the backet, the bar code.  But if you remove the book jacket, the book cover matches quite closely to the appearance of the journal on the show–no title on the spine, no blurbs or barcode, and the cover is just a six-fingered golden hand with a number “3” drawn on it.  It’s very eye-catching and consistent with the show which is cool.  AND, the inside of the book jacket has extra illustrations–blueprints of science fictional contraptions from the series, images which don’t appear anywhere else.  The book also comes with one of those nice attached-to-the-binding silky bookmarks that I’m used to only seeing in hymnals at church–very nice touch.

20161231_163450Inside the book there are three distinct sections.  The first is the contents of the journal before Dipper finds it in episode 1 of the series.  You see these pages in the show, but usually only briefly and you can only make out the titles and major illustrations.  The book contains all of those, as well as some that I don’t think ever appear in the show, so this part is my favorite part of the journal, because you are reading what Dipper read on his own.  The second part happens DURING the show, and is Dipper writing new pages into the journal.  I love the show, but I found this the weakest section because I had already seen the episodes, so it felt redundant, and each episode covered in the book only covered a couple pages, so it also felt rushed and without the characteristic humor of the show.  The third section happens near the end of the series, after a major event that I won’t spoil for you, but which changes the nature of the content of the journal again.  The design all makes sense, but I found that middle section pretty weak.

The author of the book is often secretive, and so has chosen to write some notes in code.  Not enough that you’ll be missing major portions of the book, but small bits here and there.  If you feel like trying out your hand at cracking codes, this is a little added feature.  And if you don’t, you can easily find the solutions with a little Googling if you want to read that extra content.

I was very happy to get my hands on the book, both for the look, to find out some backstories that aren’t in the show, and read some more of the original journal entries.  If you love Gravity Falls, odds are that you’ll love this book.  (And if you haven’t seen Gravity Falls, you should!