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About Varied / Hobbyist Member Dakota Wiegand23/Male/United States Group :iconcollege-sport-photos: College-Sport-Photos
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By Dakota Wiegand

            Hey Guys! So this is a different review than normal because its not a cartoon series or a movie that I am reviewing. It’s a travel show! I know a lot of people think of travel shows as being one in the same with nothing that separates one another from each other. Because I don’t travel, but have the urge to travel, these shows are a go to for me. I have watched shows like No Reservations and other shows that are very similar. I came across this show when I was at work trying to find background noise. Netflix suggested this show to me and after reading the preview, I wasn’t convinced. However, after watching the show, your opinion changes dramatically and it is a very different show! Let me take a look at this with you as we review Departures.

            The show premiered in Canada on OLN in March of 2008 and ran for 3 seasons and 42 episode until it ended in June of 2010. The show never made it to the US other than through Netflix, which currently only carries the first two seasons. The show won multiple Canadian film awards including Best Documentary Series and Best Directing.

            The show follows Scott Wilson, Justin Lukach, and cameraman Andre Dupuis. The three guys all have different personalities and its fun to actually watch them interact with one another.

            Scott Wilson, the co-creator of the show and owner of the production company that makes he documentary, is a very straight lace guy, though he can be a lot of fun. He has the connections in a lot of the countries he visits and is very likeable.

            Justin is Scott’s High School friend. Initially he rubbed me the wrong way because he was the cookie cutter frat boy, but you quickly forget about that and learn to love the guy. He’s very entertaining and actually a lovable guy.

            Andres, though rarely seen, has some of the best one liners in the series and you cant help but not to like him and feel sorry for him since he sees the world through a camera lens.

            Now the show ultimately starts in Canada, as the guys wanted to see their own country, coast to coast, before they set out to see the rest of the world. After that, they go to some normal travel places like Japan and New Zealand. However, they perfectly mix in the unique travel destinations like Jordan, Cambodia, and other locations that you would not have thought of going to.

            Now usually travel shows either focus on the tourism sights or the food, but this show tends to go off the beaten path and they try to do their own unique thing, blend in with the locals, and ultimately have fun where they are. However, another part of this show is that you see how they travel and their thoughts about the details you can only see when you go there. Most travel shows just skip this step and just jump to the part of the show they focus on. However, in Departures, they make you feel like you are traveling the world with these guys and almost make you feel like you have a friendship with these guys. At the end of season one, I felt what they felt when their year log travel event ended. You just didn’t want it to end and it was coming to a close. Thankfully they have two more seasons after the first to see more and travel with them, but you truly felt depressed once it was over.

            Another part of the show is them dealing with leaving their loved ones behind to go on this world tour. Justin in season one, is dumped by his girlfriend of 6 years, 6 months into it. You feel the pain he’s going through and you truly get to see how the guys interact with this. Later in the season, you see Justin and a Brazilian girl that they met in Jordan, meet up again and essentially fall for each other. I honestly hope the two of them get together some how, because they were perfect for each other!

            Even though it is a travel show, you feel like you are traveling without actually leaving you chair. Since discovering this show, I’ve been trying to get my family to watch it because you have a lot of fun watching the show! It’s so unique from other shows and definitely differentiates itself from others. So if you want to travel the world, or make a list of places you ant to travel to, I highly recommend this show. And please, tell your friends to watch! If the show gets more views on Netflix, maybe they will post season 3.

Show Rating: A+

Watch what I was talking about!


Plesiosaur by DwDrawings
Its a plesiosaur! I was watching River Monsters and the skeleton of this thing popped up and I ended up doodling it on a pad of yellow legal pad! Enjoy! 
Moon walk by DwDrawings
Moon walk
A little bored at work and all of a sudden I have an astronaut on the moon! Got a little carried away with detail, wish I can remove the sharpie but it's okay!

By, Dakota Wiegand

            I have to give my dad credit for putting up with the binge watching of cartoons that I have been doing for the last couple of years. Almost every time he sees me, I’m watching either hockey or a cartoon series to review. Each and every time he asks what I am watching and doesn’t say much after that. However, after I started binge watching Bill Nye The Science Guy, he just couldn’t help but ask me, “How old are you?” I responded back by putting up two fingers and saying, “This many!” I had to admit; I was asking myself the same thing. The show is from my childhood and has possibly the catchiest theme song ever created that I still sing it! But let me take you through the show.

            Bill Nye The Science Guy premiered on PBS Kids in September of 1993 and ran for 5 seasons, a total of 100 episodes, until June of 1998. The show was syndicated which allowed viewers to view the show on other channels than just PBS. Throughout its run, the show brought in 19 Daytime Emmy Awards in various categories including Outstanding Children’s Series. In 2013, Walt Disney Studios released the entire series n DVD as part of a 20th anniversary.

            The show takes place primarily in “Nye Laboratories” which I can only assume is based in Seattle, judging by the fact that he had Seattle athletes on the show, the beach and a rainforest, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The lab is sealed behind a giant steel studded door that you can get in by punching a code in at the door’s keypad. Inside, various experiments, normally being done by children, can be seen going on in the background.

            Now the main character of the show is Bill Nye, who is the Science Guy. A knowledgeable force on all things science, he mainly walks children through different facts and science experiments throughout the show. He’s a quirky guy who is really animated about science and has had probably way too much coffee before every show. My favorite part of his character though is when the show intentionally leaves in bloopers and you can see him getting frustrated with some things and his inability to get a scene done correctly. You can tell he takes his acting very seriously, but that’s good because if he didn’t, I don’t think the show would have ran for 5 seasons.

            Now I always wondered about the Science Guy if he was a doctor in any field. Upon a Wikipedia search… he’s actually not. However, he is very intelligent! He is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and is part of the Planetary Society and does have lectures at Cornell in astronomy from time to time. He has engineered key parts of the Boeing 747 and was a consultant in the aeronautics field. He got his start on a Seattle based show called Almost Live! where he had a 6 minute segment called The Science Guy. The guy has lived a very interesting life, so I strongly suggest reading up on him! But, let’s get back to the review!

            The show has a reoccurring cast of Jr. Scientists, aka children in lab coats, who help conduct children friendly science experiments that the viewers can try at home. There are about 10 of them, but you don’t really ever learn their names… or maybe I just didn’t care to learn them? Either way, they normally don’t contribute too much to the educational process!

            The craziest part  of the show is the cameos the show has! You had Scottie from Star Trek, so many Seattle based sport stars, and various scientists of different fields, and the list can just keep going on!

            The show breaks itself down into a very similar pattern per episode. You have the intro, followed by the theme song, then if the show is sponsored by dirt or air or something, then he does an initial experiment summarizing what he is going over and he then has segments like “Consider the following,” “Did you know that?” and “Nifty Home Experiment.” Then the show gets wrapped up with a spoof on a hit song where they turn it into a song based on the topic of the show, mainly rap and hip hop songs. With all the chaos that takes place in the show, its actually kind of nice having these little segments thrown in there. By far, “Consider the Follow” was my favorite part of the show due to the fact that it was probably the most provocative part of the show. It actually made the audience think of some cool things and got your head working.

            Now the main question when you look at an educational show is does the audience actually learn something? My answer: yes. Despite the constant ear bleeding, head splitting cartoon noises, there is actually educational value to the show! It was a refresher to me watching the shows, digging up things I learned way back in elementary school and Junior High. It was actually refreshing to get to kick start my brain a little bit, but you have to be careful because the show’s constant noise and randomness may make you forget what you learned.

            Now the show does have some heavy topics, like HIV/AIDS and Hunger. They handled HIV and AIDS very well, reinforcing the fact that its not an easily spreadable disease and they also toned down on the gags for that episode. Hunger was part of the nutrition episode and that was going well until the Science Guy wanted to explain in a passionate rant about how hunger effects all of us. The thing is, it started off making some great points, but the show started to fast forward him with a matching sound effect and had a kid pretty much say, “Science Guy is very passionate about this, but its above your pay-grade kid” and they skipped the whole thing! If you want to make a point, make it! Don’t start on it and pretty much back hand the audience saying that its an important subject but not important enough to have 90 seconds in this show! What the fuck! I literally shouted what the fuck at my computer when I saw that. Its so weird because in other episodes he does promote the importance of taking care of the Earth, the atmosphere, and the ocean. They talked about AIDS and all that, but they cannot address hunger? Food Network addresses hunger! But whatever…

            The last thing I want to bring up about the show is the target market. It’s a little odd to talk about in a kids show, because you think that kids are just who the show is geared for. But, you pick up rather quickly that the show is definitely more geared for lower income, inner-city kids. Most of the music in the show is geared for those kids as well as some of the kids that appear on the show. It’s not meant for affluent kids who have better odds of getting into this stuff. The show acts as a way to get these kids to get interested in science and the environment to hopefully set them up for a more successful life. That is a really cool fact about the show and makes up for some of the dumb stuff that they do.

            The show is fun in the right mindset but can get on your nerves and brainwash you if you binge watch it. If you want to be nostalgic, definitely take a look! If you want an easy way to jar your memory for a specific science subject, go for it! If you want to shut your kids up for 22 minutes and hope they take something out of the show, this is for you! Overall, it was fun to remember watching this as a kid and what it brought to the table. It has its severe problems, but it makes up for it in its quirkiness.

PS: This show has the catchiest theme song of all time! It hasn’t left my head in 20 years!!!

Show rating: B

Watch what I was talking about! 

Bill Nye The Science Guy…

By, Dakota Wiegand

            Hey guys! So I’m continuing my reviews of Miyazaki with another one of his award winners, Howl’s Moving Castle! I remember hearing about this one years ago when I was watching the Academy Awards and it was up for best animated movie, so I wasn’t going into this movie completely blind. This was in the middle of the Miyazaki marathon that I was doing, so I had a good feel on his style. Was the movie what I expected? Let’s find out!

            Howl’s Moving Castle was released in Japan in November of 2004, but premiered in Venice of September 2004 at the 61st Venice International Film Festival. Later, in June of 2005, the movie was released in the US and Canada, bringing in a total of $235 million worldwide. The film was actually based off of a novel written by Diana Wynne Jones and was part of a series that centered on the two main characters, Howl and Sophie.

            The movie is based in a fictional land, which has heavy European influence, which Miyazaki designed during a trip to France. It’s a world where there are Wizards and witches about that are legally allowed to function, as long as the serve the royal family of their respective domains. Also, the citizens of this world are used to seeing strange things, because they don’t even blink twice when they see the moving castle cross their plains like a crab on a beach.

            Now the movie has a relatively small cast. It follows Sophie, Howl, the Witch of the Waste, and Madame Suliman. Let’s check them out!

            Sophie, voiced by Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons, is the movie’s main protagonist. She is an 18-year-old girl who is a very skilled worker in a hat shop. However, she gets cursed by the Witch of the Waste for pretty much no reason what so ever, becoming a 90 year old woman. Fearing what she became, she runs away to start a new life and ends up working for the Wizard Howl. Overall, Sophie is a hard working woman who is kind of a stick in the mud. She’s not a spur of the moment character and is very, for lack of a better word, blah. She’s kind of boring and her actions after getting cursed was understandable, but nothing what you expect from the character as you learn more about her.

            Next we have the wizard Howl, voiced by Christian Bale aka BATMAN!!!! Believe or not, the Batman voice does make it into the movie during a dream… hallucination sequence… thing? Anyway, Howl is a powerful wizard who actually acts as a wizard for 4 different kingdoms, all under false names. He is in love with his vanity and wants to be seen as an attractive male. This obsession with looks probably comes from the ability to change himself into a gruesome bird-like creature, which he does his ass kicking in. He comes across as a goofy character at first, but you soon realize it that that was all a front. The creature in him plagues him and he usually alienates himself during moments where he cannot control it. He’s an interesting character, but I cannot feel attached to him.

            Next we have the Witch of the Waste, played by Lauren Bacall. The witch is another person who is obsessed with vanity, though she obviously doesn’t take much care in feeding that obsession. She is a very large woman who used to date Howl, until he became disgusted with the way she looked. She goes crazy essentially and starts to just follow him and curse girls he flirts with for no other reason. She’s just a bad guy and there is really not much else to her. She’s not even that entertaining to watch be evil. I feel like they dropped the ball a little on her.

            Lastly, the last main character this story has is Madame Suliman, voiced by Blythe Danner. Madame Suliman is the chief witch of the kingdom that Sophie lives in and she is also Howl’s mentor. She isn’t necessarily a bad person, just doing what she needs to do in order to protect her kingdom. She does this by ordering the Witch of the Waste and Howl to the castle to essentially strip their magic powers away from them, because they refused to take part in the war. She’s a woman who plots and schemes, trying to set a trap Howl. However, I would very much have liked to see where this character would have gone to if they developed her more. Most of these characters I feel a little cheated on, all of them are underdeveloped. But I will get to that in a little bit.

            Now there are other characters in the story like Calcifer, played by Billy Crystal, Markl, played by Josh Hutcherson, and the Prince aka Turnip Head, played by Crispi Freeman, but they are just there in the story and don’t feed it as much as these four.

            Now the romance in the story is primarily between Sophie and Howl, with a little bit of a Love Triangle which includes the Witch of the Waste but not really. Here’s my problem with this romance: They fall in love with each other in 30 seconds of meeting! He literally takes her away because he’s being chased and needed a distraction, jumps off a balcony, and flies over to the next balcony with very few words exchange! Yet, they are hot and heavy for each other in that time! Now, when Sophie gets cursed, Howl, or I believe, knows that it’s the same girl and doesn’t throw her out of his castle because of that. She starts working for him and they build a relationship together, not a romantic one, but something. This is where you would establish that they are in love with each other and not at the beginning of the movie.

            The art of the movie, like all Miyazaki movies, is breath taking. The character designs and scenery is at its peak form in the movie and is probably the one saving grace of it.

            The story itself, overall, is boring and confusing. It was classic Miyazaki storytelling where he tries to shove a message down your throat. In this movie, its anti-war and how it is meaningless and only brings death and destruction. These messages need to be written in more subtly in order for better story telling. Other than that message, I just don’t get it. There was no real reason for Sophie to be cursed, no reason for her to run away, the curse is never broken on her, and they live happily ever after as if the war that was raging just decided to erase itself from everyone’s mind. I guess the second message is to not judge a person by their appearance? But, Sophie was cool with that from the start and Howl doesn’t learn it. Sophie is her young self randomly and is most of the time in old woman form. He rarely interacts with her when she looks like a 90 year old woman.

    Out of all of the Miyazaki movies, this was clearly the weakest. If it wasn’t for the art in this, I would say just to skip it. I was bored a lot of the time and feel like something was missing. If not missing, than there was too much to it. The film runs for 2 hours and can easily be made into a 90 minute or less movie. So overall, if you’re a fan of Miyazaki’s art, check it out, if  not I say skip it and watch a better Miyazaki film.

Film’s rating: C-

Watch what I was talking about!

Howl’s Moving Castle…

We have begun Shooting our movie today! Well, last night we did a lot of filming, but the main stuff starts today! I will post stills later today to let you know how things are going! I am very excited that this is happening! Cant wait to see it all done!
  • Mood: Excited
  • Watching: My story be turned into a movie!!!
  • Drinking: Coca-Cola


DwDrawings's Profile Picture
Dakota Wiegand
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Current Residence: Long Island
deviantWEAR sizing preference: XL
Print preference: Comic Sans
Favourite style of art: Depends on the day
Operating System: Windows 7
MP3 player of choice: iPod
Favourite cartoon character: Nicholas D. Wolfwood

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S-M-Batty Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for faving!
cricketumpire Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you for delivering the very encouraging llama Dakota :iconllamatruckplz:
DwDrawings Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
no problem!
cricketumpire Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Hi Dakota, thank you so much for choosing to watch my work  :icontftdwplz:
Totally appreciated my new friend  :highfive:
DwDrawings Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
no problem! thanks for the :llama:!
cricketumpire Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Just in case you didn't solve the crossword clue introducing the Hawaiian Goose it's also the Nene (pronounced Nay-nay for the bird and rhyming with either 'hen' or 'seen' depending where you live for the river part of the clue) 
Thanks for faving the goose Dakota - please do keep on watching???    Give Gift Emote        
RMOriginalArt Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014   General Artist
Thanks Dakota for the fave on… :)
DwDrawings Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No Problem! 
chiseltown Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for faving my sculpt! :D
DwDrawings Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
no problem! its pretty awesome
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