Reign of Terror – Review

Reign of Terror – Review

“Life, it’s literally all we have, but is it any good?”

This is the driving force behind the actions of our host, Forrest MacNeil, as he triumphs, fails, bumbles, tumbles and flops his way through episode after episode. Forrest is a reviewer of life—meaning you send in videos to him, often asking questions like “Forrest, what’s it like dressing up like a Disney princess in prison?” and then he does the deed and reviews it using a 5-stars scale. Sounds stupid, right? Indeed, the show’s premise could’ve easily lent itself to be some mid-season summer fodder, like so many other shows before it. As easily as the show went above and beyond any expectations one might have from seeing the title and reading the premise, it could have just as easily been another Dads and fade away into obscurity.

To paint this mental tapestry of the second season’s finale with my word magic, you’ll first need a quick run-down of the show’s first season. Forrest MacNeil is a man leading the ideal life, possessing what many would aspire to including, but not limited to: a son that loves him, a wife that loves him, a house, a white picket fence and his own television show, which he apparently recently got in the first episode. Yes, Forrest’s life was easily 4-5 out of 5 stars.

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It did not take long for him to lose it all. You see, that was what the first season was about: stripping Forrest of everything he held dear until he was nothing but a husk. It was surprisingly depressing because this show held on to continuity, and despite being “just a comedy,” it presented characters that changed and grew as the show continued. Suddenly, there were real consequences carrying over from episode to episode, and they eventually culminated in… well, this is a review devoid of spoilers, so I can’t give further details, but know that the first season ended with a hope that he could recover the shambles of his life.

The internet, and I’m sure many with lives as well, waited with bated breath for Season 2. Some even expected a new host because of the way Season 1 ended. Surely Forrest will reclaim his happiness.

Ha, no. Season 2 immediately starts off by undoing whatever hope you may have gotten from the last five minutes of Season 1. Season 2 is much darker than Season 1 because whilst the latter spent its entire run slowly stripping Forrest of everything he cared about, the former continually gave us hope that he would reclaim his life and happiness, but just as continuously keeps taking it away. It’s almost cynical in nature… but it never for a moment loses any of the laugh hysteria that permeated the much lighter Season 1. The show masterfully creates a dour bliss (trademark) where we, the viewers, are in a near-constant stream of laughter whilst also feeling terrible that we find the suffering of a fellow man so hilarious.

That’s what makes this show so good. It changes pace and tone at the drop of a hat, but because of the aforementioned well-developed characters, the mood whiplash doesn’t alienate us because the characters themselves react exactly as we do. These characters are human, and that’s what makes this show so funny. It takes average people (and very few are as average as Forrest) and throws them into near-cartoony scenarios that still feel grounded because of the realism with which those situations are tackled. This may be due to the nature of the show’s continuity where consequences carry over from episode to episode and season to season.

Season 2’s finale, which aired on October 1st, echoed every single point made in this write-up thus far. It had the characters reliving moments from Season 1 and connecting them to events in Season 2, which drives Forrest to attempt to reclaim his long-lost life, and hilarity ensues and leaves us in the dour bliss (trademark) Review has become so masterful at instilling. It must be watched to be believed, and spoiling it here in this panorama of vernacular does not do the show and the writing justice. I will merely leave you with a context-less quote from one of the characters in this season’s finale:

“People are constantly asking you [Forrest] to review dangerous things because they already know what the easy stuff is like—they can do it by themselves. Living on the edge like this, things will go wrong, people will get hurt… and that is part of what we need you to help us understand about life.”

Echoing the question that opened this review, the jury’s still out on the answer. What is obvious though is that Review is a stellar show, and you should be out there watching it.

8/10

And the Terror Seal of Approval. Until next time, Terrorking out.

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