Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Good Idea With A Mediocre Execution: The 2017 Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data Ornament Underwhelms!


The Good: Good balance, Good sculpts, Neat sound function
The Bad: Expensive, Overproduced, Painted details are off, Animated look to the characters
The Basics: The 30th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation is celebrated by Hallmark with the 2017 Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament, which is a good idea with a middling execution.


2017 is the 30th Anniversary of the debut of Star Trek: The Next Generation and to celebrate it, one of Hallmark's Keepsake holiday ornaments is focused on characters from the classic science fiction television show. The ornament is the 2017 Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament, which straddles the character and mural ornament styles. The substantive ornament is well-sculpted and has a generally cool sound function, but the painting for the ornament is a bit off, getting some of the details wrong and making the characters look animated.

The Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data is a Hallmark ornament released in 2017 as part of the 30th Anniversary celebration for Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ornament is one of the more expensive Star Trek ornaments on the market, but it is also one of the largest ones Hallmark has ever produced!

Basics

The Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament recreates Captain Picard, seated in his Captain's chair, with Data standing behind him on a piece of deck plating. Right off the bat, the concept is one that is a neat idea, but makes no sense for the setting. Picard's Captain's chair was flanked by seats on either side and there was no actual space behind the chair; the Security station was above and behind the chair on, essentially, a quarter-wall, ramp ledge. In other words, the Data in the Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament would be standing where chairs or a raised floor were!

The Hallmark Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament is made of a durable plastic and it is fairly large given that it is Picard, the chair, the deck and Data all in one ornament. The ornament is 5 1/8" tall by 3 3/8" wide by 3" deep, making it one of the largest Star Trek ornaments Hallmark has ever produced. The ornament features some pretty wonderful sculpted detailing. Both characters look recognizable and have sculpted features like fingernails, which is an impressive level of attention to detail. Picard's hair is textured to look realistic and for the size, that is one of the finer details that could be sculpted on. The Captain's chair looks immaculate and the uniforms are adequately detailed on the sculpt front to look realistic and like the subjects.

On the coloring front, the Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament is significantly less-detailed. The skin tones are monotonal, making Picard look animated, not realistic and Data's coloring is a bit more green in the yellow than Data's android skin tones possessed. The coloring is simplistic and the height of the problems with the coloring details is that Data's rank pins are miscolored (as a Lieutenant Commander, he would have two solid, one outlined, pips - the ornament has him promoted to a full Commander with three full gold pips). Ironically, the chair and section of flooring are colored in monotones that still make them look realistic instead of animated!

Features

As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament has an impressive sound function. With the press of a fairly well-concealed button, the Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament plays one of (at least) seven audio clips from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The sound clips are pretty cool and the ornament plays them loud enough, but the clips - somewhat ridiculously - do not feature clips exclusively of the two characters featured on the ornament! It's not like there wasn't a wealth of material to be mined of dialogue between Picard and Data, but some of the clips are not dialogue exchanges between those two characters. That is the sort of thing that fans who might shell out for the ornament are likely to notice!

That said, for the price, the sound function is a good one.

Balance

As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Star Trek Christmas Tree, Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data is a bit unnecessary as Hallmark has previously produced ornaments of each of the two characters separately. The ornament has a brass hook loop rather obtrusively placed. From that hook, the Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament hangs fairly level. The ornament's base makes the balance important, but most of the time it hangs level, despite the obvious placement of the hook loop.

Collectibility

Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (click here for my review!). The Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data ornament is a ridiculously common ornament and already it can be found on the secondary market for well under its original issue price. While some fans might buy them cheap and do custom paintjobs, one suspects the bulk of these ornaments will sell on clearance after the holiday season is over.

This is a poor investment piece and it is unlikely it will appreciate in value.

Overview

The Captain Jean-Luc Picard And Lieutenant Commander Data Christmas ornament is somewhat underwhelming, despite being a neat idea. The result is a somewhat lackluster tribute to the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

For other Star Trek ornaments of characters, please check out my reviews of:
2016 Legends Of Star Trek Ensign Pavel Chekov (Limited Edition)
2015 Legends Of Star Trek Lieutenant Uhura
2014 Legends Of Star Trek Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
2014 Vina The Orion Slave Woman (Limited Edition)
2013 Legends Of Star Trek Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott
2012 Legends Of Star Trek Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy
2011 Legends Of Star Trek Spock
2010 Legends Of Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk
2009 Limited Edition Ilia Probe
2005 Khan
2004 Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker
1999 Lieutenant Commander Worf
1997 Dr. McCoy
1996 Mr. Spock

4.5/10

For other ornament reviews, please check out my Ornament Review Index Page!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Enter The Silence And "The Impossible Astronaut!"


The Good: Incredible new villain, Intriguing mystery, Decent character moments, Good performances all around
The Bad: Establishing so many characters that it does not use The Doctor overly well.
The Basics: "The Impossible Astronaut" begins the next big Doctor Who mystery by introducing The Silence and putting into play an astronaut who kills The Doctor while his friends watch!


When it comes to serialized television, the benefit of long arcs is that one can seed ideas in early seasons and then play them out later for maximum dramatic effect. Long arcs allow for complicated characters and concepts which can be incredibly well-developed. What becomes increasingly obvious to fans of serialized television is when those ideas are mapped out before an idea is even pitched to a production company and when the story is crapped together piecemeal after something is already established. The "mythology" of The X-Files (reviewed here!) is an excellent example of something cobbled together poorly; while Doctor Who has season-long arcs that are well-constructed, the overall arc of the series is not terribly well-constructed. To his credit, Steven Moffat seemed to have a lot of well-developed ideas on how he was going to pull off River Song when he created her in "Silence In The Library" (reviewed here!). "The Impossible Astronaut" begins the process of explicitly spelling out River Song's backstory.

And "The Impossible Astronaut" is a pretty good beginning to that backstory. More than that, "The Impossible Astronaut" begins to lay the framework for a mystery surrounding who exactly the assassin and astronaut were and how they fit into the larger Doctor Who mythos. Interestingly, "The Impossible Astronaut" is a start to the story that is one of the rare starts that is so entertaining on its own that it is not disappointing for its lack of resolution.

Opening with Rory and Amy finding clues that The Doctor is "waving" at them from the past through inserting himself into events and ridiculous situations to which they might pay attention, The Doctor gets Amy, Rory, and River Song in Utah. The Doctor wants to stop running and when the quartet has a meal out on the edge of a lake, Amy sees an alien (but then forgets she sees it) and they are joined by Canton Delaware . . . moments before The Doctor is killed by an astronaut who comes out of the lake.

Going back to a diner after burning the Doctor's body, the trio finds an earlier version of The Doctor who was similarly summoned to that time and place. The Doctor refuses to simply go along on the mission to 1969, until Amy Pond swears she can trust him on fish sticks and custard. The Doctor arrives, after River effectively cloaks the TARDIS, inside the Oval Office, where Nixon is briefing a younger version of Canton Delaware III on calls he is getting claiming aliens are around her. While they are in the Oval Office, Amy sees the creature again, but as soon as her line of sight with it is broken, she forgets. The Doctor and his companions begin a search for the little girl calling Nixon and in Cape Canaveral, they discover an alien laboratory and stolen NASA technology. Rory and River Song discover a network of tunnels underneath the entire planet, filled with the aliens who cause people to forget their existence.

"The Impossible Astronaut" introduces the previously-alluded to Silence on-screen for the first time. In "The Impossible Astronaut," The Silence appears as an alien that exists in one's memory only when they are in eye contact with it. The entity erases itself from the memory of its victims the moment they are no longer looking at it and director Toby Haynes plays the technique out wonderfully in "The Impossible Astronaut" to make it clear. Before any characters evaluate the alien invaders on Earth in 1969, Amy Pond encounters them multiple times and Haynes shows their effects.

The plot of "The Impossible Astronaut" finds the right blend of funny and creepy to instantly engage the viewer. The Silence creatures are terrifying and the addition of River Song makes for a compelling character dynamic. While it helps to advance the plot, the use of a version of The Doctor who is 1103 and one who is only a year older than Amy and Rory recall (908), creates - albeit briefly - a lost history of The Doctor and River Song. When The Doctor and River sync up their journals, they appear to have had a great many of their adventures together. It confirms what viewers would suspect by watching "The Husbands Of River Song" (reviewed here!), which put a cap on The Doctor's adventures with River and eliminated any interaction between River and any future Doctors.

"The Impossible Astronaut" has a lot of set-up work to do and the return of The Doctor is one that features an erratic use of the character. The Doctor who is present in almost the entire episode is not the one who moves along the plot; the dead 1103 year-old Doctor is the character who guides the plot. The Doctor is fun in his later years, but when the 908 year-old version of The Doctor starts to follow the trail of clues left by his older self, he oscillates radically between being incredibly serious and as goofy as one might expect from Matt Smith's first season as The Doctor.

The character issue that resonates with those who consider the character of The Doctor in "The Impossible Astronaut" is one that stretches credibility some. The viewer is expected to believe that in the few months that Amy Pond was The Doctor's companion for the fifth season of Doctor Who (reviewed here!) he bonded with her in such a way that he would enlist her help in fighting the Silence. Given that the mission in "The Impossible Astronaut" involves going back to 1969, there is no clear reason in the episode why The Doctor - who had been out of Amy and Rory's life for two months and several decades from the plot - would have used them for the mission instead of either getting a new Companion in 1969 or using someone from his past he trusted.

Of course, for the entire plot surrounding the truth of the Astronaut and the mysterious little girl to work, Amy Pond has to be involved in the mission. Alex Kingston steals her scenes in "The Impossible Astronaut" and her facial expressions heighten the fear in the middle of the episode. When River Song goes into the creepy basement, Kingston emotes being afraid perfectly through her eyes and she makes the viewer completely forget that River Song cannot possibly die in the episode.

"The Impossible Astronaut" is a promising beginning to the sixth season of Doctor Who and it establishes enough tenants for a mystery involving an alien invasion in 1969 to make "Day Of The Moon" irresistible - when watching "The Impossible Astronaut" leave enough time to watch its sequel immediately afterward!

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Doctor Who - The Complete Sixth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season of Matt Smith as The Doctor here!
Thanks!]

For other Doctor Who season premieres, please visit my reviews of:
"Rose"
"The Christmas Invasion"
"The Eleventh Hour"

9/10

See how this episode stacks up against other episodes and seasons of Doctor Who by visiting my Doctor Who Review Index Page where the reviews are organized from best to worst!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Monday, September 11, 2017

Dominated By The Coffee Flavor, Tcho Mokaccino Chocolates Are Unremarkable.


The Good: Good ingredients, Does not taste bad
The Bad: Expensive, Poor balance between coffee and chocolate flavors
The Basics: Tcho Mokaccino chocolates are all right, but their failure to effectively blend flavors of coffee and chocolate into an enjoyable treat.


I am a big fan of chocolate and coffee flavors. Indeed, Mocha flavored chocolates are some of my favorites. Unfortunately, my first experience with Tcho chocolates led me to a chocolate that contained both of those flavors, but with such an imbalance that it was impossible to be thrilled by them. That is not to say that the Tcho Mokaccino squares are bad - they are not - but they are so strongly coffee flavored that they might as well not be chocolates.

Basics

Tcho Mokaccino chocolate squares are one and 1/2” squares of chocolate that are 3/16” thick. Each of the squares comes individually wrapped in a tan foil wrapper. It is worth noting that while I usually rail against the environmental impact of such things, it is hard to imagine Tcho chocolate squares not wrapped. This keeps each one clean, unmelted and intact.

Each chocolate square is a seamless square that is a milk chocolate patty with an artistic grid filigree stamped into the top.

Ease Of Preparation

These are candy, so preparing them is as simple as opening the bag and then opening one of the plastic wrappers around the actual chocolate square one wishes to eat. There is no grand secret to eating Tcho Mokaccino chocolate squares. That said, they do need to be kept comparatively cool or these squares will melt.

Taste

The Mokaccino Tcho squares have a potent coffee aroma to them. These chocolates do not actually hint at a cocoa or chocolate scent; objectively smelled, one would think they are about to drink a cup of coffee. The coffee scent from the Tcho Mokaccino squares is so strong.

In the mouth, the Tcho Mokaccino squares are sweet and dominated by the flavor of coffee. The chocolate acts as a creamy, solid medium for a strong slightly sweetened coffee flavor. Those looking for a rich chocolate that matches the coffee flavor in the treat will not find it in the Tcho Mokaccino squares. The coffee flavor is rich and strong, completely dominating the chocolate that contains it.

There is a slightly sweet aftertaste to the Mokaccino chocolate squares, which eventually transitions into a slightly bitter, distinctly coffee aftertaste.

Nutrition

The Mokaccino chocolate squares are candy, so it is tough to look at these for something nutritious and then blame them for not being healthy. Tcho chocolate squares have decent ingredients, though, which is probably why they are so expensive. The primary ingredients are cane sugar, cacao beans, and cocoa butter. There is nothing unpronounceable, nor unrecognizable in these candies.

A serving of the Tcho Mokaccino chocolate squares is considered a single square and while there is nothing bad in them, they are not exactly loaded with nutrients.

Honestly, these are candy and anyone looking to them for actual nutrition needs to get a reality check. These are not Vegan-compliant, nor are they recommended for anyone with a nut allergy as they may contain trace amounts of tree nuts.

Storage/Clean-up

The bags of these Tcho Mokaccino chocolate squares remain fresh for quite some time. Ours did not have an expiration date that I could find. Given that it is chocolate, one assumes that if they are kept in a cool, dry environment they will not melt or go bad. It is hard to imagine just what it would take for these to go bad outside melting and refreezing.

As for cleanup, I applaud those who actually throw the wrappers away in socially appropriate places, as opposed to litter. Outside that, there is no real cleanup needed, unless one is eating them in a hot environment. In that case, it is likely one would need to wash their hands. If these chocolate squares melt into most fabrics, they will stain. Getting them to melt, though, is quite a task.

Overall

Tcho Mokaccino chocolate squares are coffee incarnate in a chocolate medium, but not a great blend of chocolate and coffee flavors, making for a more middle-of-the-road chocolate treat than one worth enthusiastically recommending.

For other chocolate reviews, please check out:
Godiva Chocolate Lava Cake Dessert Truffles
Green & Black's Pure Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao chocolate bars
Jelly Belly Milk Chocolate Malt Balls

5/10

For other candy reviews, please visit my Candy Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Little Evil Is Another Netflix Movie Miss.


The Good: The acting is all right, Moments of humor, Decent direction
The Bad: Characters are types as opposed to individuals, Troubling blend of humor and horror, No chemistry between the adult leads, Obvious plot progression for the bulk of the film.
The Basics: Little Evil ineffectively blends humor and horror into a troubling film that is more unsettling than it is entertaining.


Netflix has a decidedly mixed record when it comes to the films it produces. Despite that, I still eagerly watch a lot of the original films Netflix produces and today, that meant taking in Little Evil. It appears that this year, instead of bucking cinematic trends, Netflix is simply adopting them and its participation in The September Slump (which is often characterized by schlocky horror films and banal comedies) is Little Evil. I was instantly encouraged that Little Evil might be a better-than-average Netflix film based on Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, and Clancy Brown participating in the film.

Sadly, that was not the case.

Little Evil is a horror-comedy that works so hard to try to balance the two genres that it fails to do either in a satisfying way and it completely fails to create characters that the viewer can be empathized with. And I get that some of the point of Little Evil is to create a satire where group therapy and religious people completely fail to recognize an antichrist, where the stepfather in the film is more engaged than the biological mother, but the film fails to successfully convey its points in a way that makes the story feel organic and well-developed.

A week before he is buried alive by his new stepson, Lucas, Gary moves in with his new wife, Samantha. Gary tries to engage with Lucas, but his stepson is creepy and weird, doing things like bringing Gary a handful of worms when Gary tries to bond with him. While Gary is in the process of selling an abandoned nunnery to a local evangelical priest who predicts that the end times are here, Gary is called to Lucas's school. Lucas, apparently, told one of his teachers to "go to hell," moments before she poured lye on herself and threw herself out a window. Gary is sent to group therapy where he hears other stepdads having issues with their new kids.

After a clown sets himself on fire at Lucas's sixth birthday party, Gary reluctantly visits the wedding videographer, who shows him footage of their disastrous wedding that indicates that Lucas might be the antichrist. Gary and his pal, Al, team up to try to learn more, journeying to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to enlist the aid of Gozamel, who is killed on the trip back to Gary's home. When Gary resigns himself to the idea that he might have to kill Lucas to save the world and prevent the apocalypse, he takes his stepson out to a water park blessed by the Pope and begins to have doubts. Gary's role as Lucas's stepfather is complicated when he begins to bond with the boy, but doomsday cult leaders abduct Lucas and Samantha.

At the core of the issues with Little Evil is the fact that the characters do not work. Gary and Samantha are newlyweds who had a very short relationship before getting married and there is zero sexual chemistry between Adam Scott and Evangeline Lilly. Gary and Samantha apparently had a short, hot and heavy relationship, but days after they are married, they seem to have no connection. Sadly, the main relationship in Little Evil makes no sense as the two characters seem to have no genuine care for one another or even things in common. Gary clearly did not do his due diligence in getting Samantha's backstory before they got married, too.

Particularly troubling in the way Samantha is presented. Less than seven years ago, Samantha was taken in by a cult and raped, resulting in Lucas and that was followed by several men in her life meeting gruesome deaths. But, she's fine; she's been out dating and getting married, neglecting Lucas and showing no shock or reaction to what is given as exposition as a pretty horrible life.

The best relationship in Little Evil is the buddy comedy style relationship between Gary and his co-worker, Al. Al is going through step-dad issues of her own as her wife's son is not bonding well with her, so she and Gary actually have common experiences to relate with one another over.

While Little Evil generally treads toward comedy, it does so after being set up as a horror with jump scares and a thoroughly creepy performance from child actor Owen Atlas. Atlas is charged mostly with staring and looking evil and he nails it, but the early focus on Lucas as a creepy, evil child makes it hard to accept the turn toward comedy when it comes. The transition is much more erratic than it is entertaining.

Little Evil pulls itself out of its own mire in the final third, but by that point, it is hard to be invested in the characters, plot or even the themes of the film.

For other Netflix exclusive films, please check out my reviews of:
To The Bone
Okja
You Get Me
Shimmer Lake
War Machine
Girlfriend's Day
Take The 10
Clinical
Barry
Spectral
True Memoirs Of An International Assassin
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
Mascots
ARQ
XOXO
Tallulah
Special Correspondents
The Fundamentals Of Caring
The Ridiculous 6

4/10

For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dog Treats For Hipsters (Not Their Dogs!): The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks Underwhelm!


The Good: Wonderful, quality, ingredients
The Bad: No dental benefits, Expensive, Benny is not at all excited by them.
The Basics: The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks might make high-quality dog treats, but this is one I couldn't coax Benny into eating more than once!


I understand the appeal of high-quality products for people and their pets. I get it, there are people who want to eat healthy and will pay a premium for that and there are pets who have allergies and need to be on special diets. Despite that, sometimes, I encounter a product and I roll my eyes, thinking "who is this product really for?" Such was the case when I received a bag of The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks. I understand that some dogs might needs wheat, corn and soy free treats, but I've never had a dog that actually ate bananas.

Benny, my new English Setter, is no exception to that trend.

The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks smelled great, proving their wonderful and natural ingredients, but Benny was entirely indifferent to them, proving to my wife and I that the treats were meant to appeal to dog owners more than their canine companions!

Basics

The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks are an all-natural treat for dogs. They are a soft treat, so they have no noticeable dental benefits for dogs. Or rather, they would not have real dental benefits for dogs if a dog would even eat them!

Banana Safari Snacks left me ultimately unimpressed because Benny could not be enticed into trying them more than once. The Banana Safari Snacks Treats are tan lumps that are reminiscent of macaroon cookies in their shape. Each snack is 1 1/4” in diameter and 1/2” thick. The Banana Safari Snacks come in a 5 ounce resealable bag, which has at least twenty treats, as the treats are approximately .25 oz. each.

Ease Of Preparation

The fresh-baked treats are soft and mealy; this is actually a fairly messy treat when the dog actually tries to eat it. Preparing the The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks for consumption is very easy; simply open the bag and remove a treat for your dog. I highly recommend having water nearby for the dog to drink as they eat the Banana Safari Snacks!

Benny’s Reaction

Benny was entirely unimpressed by these treats. The first time we gave him a The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks, he took it in his mouth, walked two steps, dropped the treat and turned and looked at me with an expression that was the English Setter equivalent to "what the hell did you just give me?!" Benny tried one, fracturing it easily into two pieces and a lot of crumbs, then swallowing the pieces. Benny did not feel inclined to clean up the pieces.

The subsequent attempts to feed Benny The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks resulted in Benny dropping the treat from his mouth and leaving them. Perhaps the best commentary I can make on how unappealing these treats were to Benny was the fact that as I wrote this review, I opened the bag and removed the treats for measurement and Benny, who is nearby, did not even lift his head to try to look at them. These are aromatic enough that Benny can smell them and he cares so little about them that he does not try to get at them and will not eat them when placed right before him.

Nutrition

These treats would be pretty good for dogs if only the dog would eat them. Dog owners should have clean drinking water available to their dog when they feed them this treat. The The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Banana Safari Snacks is a dietary supplement, not a full meal. The Banana Safari Snacks have at least 10.93% crude protein (which is an oddly specific amount for a minimum!), 15.28% crude fat, and no more than .83% crude fiber and 12.08% moisture, so those looking out for their dog's specific dietary needs, that might help. The Banana Safari Snacks are made primarily of rolled oats, Honey, and palm oil. There are no recognizable preservatives, so these treats are actually very natural! The treats we picked up two weeks ago had a September 2, 2018 expiration date, which surprised me.

Overall

The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. seems to be a decent company, but their Banana Safari Snacks were solidly rejected by my dog and my wallet!

For other dog treat reviews, please check out my takes on:
Greenies Bursting Blueberry Treats
I And Love And You Chicken + Duck Recipe Nice Jerky Bites
Blue Dog Bakery Peanut Butter & Molasses Treats

1.5/10

For other pet product reviews, please click here to visit my index page on the subject!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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The "Pilot" Episode Of Supergirl Is Not A Strong Beginning.


The Good: Good performances - especially between Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist, Decent direction/production values
The Bad: Thematically heavy-handed, Rushes the reveals of all the major characters, Simplistic plot
The Basics: "Pilot" gives Supergirl a rocky, obvious start packed with characters who are inherently unlikable.


When it first aired, I watched the first episode of Supergirl (rather unimaginatively entitled "Pilot"); I was not impressed. In fact, I recalled it being woefully heavy-handed and dull, a far cry from the other DC Television Universe pilot episodes I'd watched. But then, before the second season premiered, it was announced that Lynda Carter was appearing in the second season. As a child in the 1980s, having grown up on Carter as Wonder Woman, I am always eager to see her in new projects and that necessitated rewatching the entire first season of Supergirl. I had plans this summer to go back through the entire first season of Supergirl and today I am finally getting a start on that.

Watching "Pilot" for the third time, Supergirl got off to a fairly rocky start. Sadly, the opening of Supergirl features a number of very bad tropes from both romantic comedies and superhero shows. So, Kara spends her pre-super hero times freaking out about a blind date, being told by her sister that she has nothing to worry about because she is cute, and she works for a female boss whose initial characterization is hostile, ruthless and uncaring (yes, Cat Grant is the archetypal "bitch" boss).

Opening on Earth with exposition about Kara Zor-El, Kara is sent in a pod from Krypton to look after Kal-El, her younger cousin. Unfortunately for Kara, her pod manages to escape Krypton, but her pod is knocked into the Phantom Zone, where time does not pass for her for twenty-four years. Kal-El finds the thirteen year-old Kara and sets her up with the Davers family where she grows up with Alex Danvers. Now a young adult, Kara Danvers works for CatCo Worldwide Media as the personal assistant for Cat Grant, the CEO and editor-in-chief of the company. When Cat threatens to downsize her first newspaper acquisition, The Tribune, Kara is upset, but powerless to help.

Kara meets the new hire, James Olsen, before going on a blind date. When her date bails, she learns that the plane carrying her sister is in jeopardy and after years of not trying, she flies to the plane's rescue and she uses her super strength to safely land the plane in a nearby river. Kara is shocked when Alex is less-than-supportive and Kara returns to work the next day to find Cat Grant scrambling to capitalize on the new hero in National City. Kara confides in her co-worker (the i.t. expert at CatCo) Winn Schott that she was the mysterious woman who saved the plane. Schott helps Kara outfit herself and together they find various crimes in National City and stop them. Unfortunately for Kara, she is shot out of the sky with Kryptonite darts by the D.E.O., the Department Of Extranormal Operations. Under the leadership of Hank Henshaw, Kara is told that the D.E.O. is a result of her arrival. Kara is also informed that when she crashed to Earth, an alien prison - Fort Rozz - left the Phantom Zone with her and aliens have been on Earth since. The D.E.O. allows Kara to leave - though she is shocked to learn her sister is working for them - and soon after, she is called out by Vartox, an alien who was sentenced to Fort Rozz by Kara's mother.

Thematically, "Pilot" beats the horse of female empowerment to death almost immediately. Early in the episode, a random person praises how exciting it is to have a positive role model for her daughter and that is heavyhanded. Kara complains about the branding of "Supergirl" and Cat Grant explains why "girl" is not a pejorative. When Cat lists positive things about girls, there is something particularly unsettling about her saying she is pretty before she takes credit for being smart. And the fact that Supergirl's first adversary is a sexist alien also seems over-the-top.

So, Kara Danvers encounters adversity in her new role as Supergirl and she goes off to pout. Kara, who has wanted to break out and be herself, immediately retreats and denies her own abilities in a particularly scripted bit of lame internal conflict in "Pilot." The initial characterization of Hank Henshaw is difficult to watch as he is a cold asshole to Kara. As well, his doubt of Kara - which elicits Alex's line that he doubts her just because she is a girl - is so forced that even on my third viewing my eye roll was pretty hard. Hank Henshaw and Cat Grant are two incredibly inefficient employers coming at the Supergirl issue from opposite positions on female empowerment. It is unfortunate that the writers and producers of Supergirl felt they could only make their points about Kara and Alex's competence and efficiency by contrasting them with woefully flawed bosses.

While Alex's characterization is somewhat lame and forced (to be fair, her motivations become better as the season goes on), the on-screen chemistry between Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist is impressive. Leigh and Benoist leap into Supergirl with a chemistry that plays exactly like two people who were raised together.

The technical aspects of Supergirl are especially problematic in the "Pilot." Kara Danvers does an awesome job of saving the plane and the special effect is pretty cool. Unfortunately, there are no physics that account for how Kara could have used super strength to move and, especially, slow, the plane. Kara has no actual mode of propulsion; flying would seem to be the function of excessive speed and strength. Even if she had some form of levitation ability, there would still need to be a surface upon which to "push" off of; the range of a person who had not used their abilities for years seems like it would either be limited or compromised.

At the climax of "Pilot," James Olsen gives Kara Kal-El's baby blanket and it feels like a particularly sexist and troubling gift. Olsen's gift makes far less sense as a character comment and more of a subtle reinforcement of the stereotypical gender roles of the United States. Kara's "aww" reaction where she clutches the baby blanket to her and shows that she values the gift only makes real sense if Kryptonian values toward motherhood and parental responsibility mirror the gender conditioning girls are given in the United States. In a similar way, Kara is clearly taken aback by James telling her that Kal-El is proud of her; it is hard not to instantly make the Mystery Science Theater 3000-type comment, "Why would I care about my baby cousin's esteem?!" when the line comes up.

Ultimately, the "Pilot" of Supergirl tries far too hard to make a statement and be a symbol rather than tell a good story that allows the show to take off and organically become that. The result is a terribly disappointing beginning to the series.

For other DC Television Universe series or season premieres, please visit my reviews of:
"The Adventures Of Supergirl" - Supergirl
"City Of Heroes" - The Flash
"Pilot, Part I" - Legends Of Tomorrow

3/10

For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Surprisingly Not A Dark Blend: Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee Is Good For Lovers Of Strong Coffee!


The Good: A potent blend on its own, Nicely caffeinated, Good aroma, Easy to prepare
The Bad: Comparatively expensive, Flavor does not hold up against creamers
The Basics: Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee might get consumers to pay more for the brand name, but the truth is, it is a medium blend that is flavored much closer to a dark blend, thrilling consumers who want a strong, coffee flavor!


Ever since I found myself in Michigan, I have been excited by the variety of coffee brewers in the midwest that have not had market penetration out East, where I grew up. One of the biggest chains in the Midwest is Caribou Coffee (reviewed here!). Like many other coffee shops, Caribou Coffee has taken to marketing to the home brew market and my first experience with their in-home coffee is the Caribou Coffee Medium Roast coffee. I lucked out and found a 10 oz. bag of whole bean Medium Roast at my local discount store for just under $4, but most consumers are likely to pay two and a half times that for the same size. Is it worth it at the full price? I would say it is right on the cusp. For those who love a strong coffee flavor, yes, it is a good coffee, even at the higher price point. But, for those who like a robust blend and garnish their coffee with creamer or sugar, the Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Blend is a tougher sell at full price.

Basics

Caribou Coffee is a premium coffee chain that competes through the Midwest with Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. The standard size for Medium Roast is a 10 oz. bag.

The Medium Roast Blend is an aromatic blend that smells potently of coffee beans and it is a caffeinated blend. This is is a bit more aromatic than most medium roasts I have tried, but does not have the bitterness of a dark blend, which is nice.

Ease Of Preparation

Medium Roast Coffee is fairly easy to prepare, though because it is a whole bean coffee, it does require one to grind the beans first. Open the bag; Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is vacuum sealed when first purchased, so when it is opened, the bag will likely plump up a little. Then, place the beans in a coffee grinder. I still have a Cuisinart Supreme Grind Coffee Grinder (reviewed here!) that has does an excellent job of holding up over the years. The Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is intended for automatic (drip or percolating) coffee makers. This is NOT an instant coffee. As a result, it needs to be brewed and I use a Hamilton Beach machine (reviewed here!) with a permanent filter (reviewed here!).

Consult your coffee maker's instructions for how to brew the coffee. However, as far as the basics go, you'll need a coffee filter, which you put the Medium Roast Coffee in and then brew through your coffee maker. The directions recommend using 2 Tbs. to 8 oz. of filtered water and that nets a very strong cup of coffee.

Taste

Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee smells robustly of coffee without having the more burned aroma that often comes from darker roasts. The Medium Roast Coffee is aromatic and its scent is very inviting to anyone who is looking for a strong cup of coffee; indeed, it insinuates a very potent blend from the scent that comes from the coffee maker or cup when the Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is brewing or freshly poured!

On the tongue, the flavor of the Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is strong and rich, without being noticeably bitter. The best characterization I have for the flavor of the Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is that it is flavored like a highly concentrated coffee, as opposed to being a darker flavor. The difference is that the Medium Roast Coffee tastes like one is drinking a lot of a medium - not earthy, not burnt in its flavor - coffee with each sip, without the bitterness and with more body than most medium roasts I've tried. The Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is flavorful with a very pure, clean coffee flavor!

With a single tablespoon of creamer, the Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee becomes a bit sweeter and takes on a noticeably more watered-down flavor. Because the Medium Roast Coffee is not noticeably bitter to begin with, adding creamer does not make it less bitter. However, it does lose some of its potency bringing out the flavor of the water in the coffee with whatever creamer is added to it.

The Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee leaves a coffee flavored, but not bitter, aftertaste in the mouth that endures for about five minutes after the last of it is consumed.

Nutrition

This is coffee, not something that appears on the nutrition pyramid! Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee does not contribute anything to one's daily recommended allowance of anything. In fact, the bag does not have any ingredients, so I am forced to assume all that is in this blend is coffee beans, which would fit what it tastes like.

This is a caffeinated blend and it feels like it! This has enough caffeine to pop one's eyes open between the taste, aroma and caffeine. Because it is a caffeinated coffee, it does not appear to have undergone any of the chemical processes that sometimes cause complications in decaffeinated coffees.

Storage/Clean-up

Medium Roast Coffee ought to be stored sealed in its bag with the top firmly closed. Coffee is known to absorb flavors of food nearby it, so keeping the top tightly closed is highly recommended. There are different schools of thought on refrigerating open coffee and I have a very clean refrigerator with a lot of ways to segregate coffee, so I tend to come down on the side of refrigerate it. The container makes no recommendations on that count and our bag did not seem to have an expiration date.

After brewing, coffee grounds ought to be disposed of. These grounds may be thrown in the trash when used or put in a compost pile, if available. Coffee grounds make great compost.

Overall

Caribou Coffee Medium Roast Coffee is a good blend for those who like strong coffee, despite the expense, but for those looking for the coffee house experience at home, they are likely to find the Medium Roast Coffee does not hold its own sufficiently opposite common additives.

For other coffee reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Amora Intenso Blend
Dunkin' Donuts Cinnamon Coffee Roll Coffee
Trader Joe's Dark Blend

7.5/10

For other food or drink reviews, please check out my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Well Worth The Second Viewing: The Good Place Season 1 Is Fun!


The Good: Funny beginning, Good performances, Decent plot development/use of tension
The Bad: Middle feels repetitive and changes to a very serious tone, Erratic character development
The Basics: Smart and well-developed, the first season of The Good Place does a generally good job of creating an original story of a bad person mistakenly sent to an afterdeath intended for good people.


When it comes to dramedies about the afterlife, the niche market has been dominated in the past by works by Bryan Fuller. Fuller created Dead Like Me (reviewed here!) and Pushing Daisies (season 1 reviewed here!), which were quirky shows that effectively blended comedy and drama and featured characters who had fantastic relationships with death. Fuller has been busy the past few years, working on Hannibal and then laying the groundwork of Star Trek: Discovery, which allowed Michael Schur to break into the niche with The Good Place.

The Good Place Season 1 is a dramedy about the afterdeath that has thirteen episodes and it is a season that begs to be watched at least twice. For a first season show with an original idea, The Good Place starts strong and develops well. While the show begins to feel a little repetitive in the middle of the season, the show moves toward a powerful and surprising climax; this is a show that leaves viewers guessing as to where it is going. As a film critic, being surprised by a show's arc is a big deal for me and The Good Place Season 1 has a set-up that implies something deeper is going on and when the show reveals its own truth in the first season finale, it appears to come out of nowhere, but make sense. As a result, viewers have an entirely different experience watching the first season of The Good Place the second time and the season holds up remarkably well!

Eleanor Shellstrop is dead. She finds herself immediately in the office of Michael in The Good Place, essentially the afterdeath for people who lived good and virtuous lives. At a town meeting of the neighborhood (made up of 322 good people), Michael tells everyone that their soulmates are in the community and When she is shown memories from her life, she realizes instantly that Michael has her confused with someone else. Eleanor confesses to Chidi, her soulmate, that there has been a mistake and he pledges to help her.

Chidi begins to teach Eleanor ethics after it appears Eleanor's negative thoughts violently manifest in the environment of The Good Place. After getting the neighborhood cleaned up, Eleanor is found out by someone else . . . Jason Mendoza, another resident who does not belong in The Good Place but has managed to pass as he poses as a monk who has taken a vow of silence. When Eleanor and Chidi become concerned that Jason might expose himself publicly, Eleanor inadvertently creates a sinkhole in the neighborhood's restaurant. The disaster brings Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani (Jason's soulmate and Eleanor's neighbor) closer together, but soon Michael realizes that something in the world he created does not belong and he enlists Eleanor to help him find the cause of the irregularities in his neighborhood.

The Good Place Season 1 is very well-constructed, much like a seasonlong version of . . . actually, there is an exceptionally good film analogy but right as I wrote it, I realized that saying it in a review of the first season would be pretty spoilerific. Check out my second season review for that because it will be impossible to discuss the second season of The Good Place without revealing what the reversal at the end of the first season is! As such, viewers who are wowed by where the first season of The Good Place ends will be able to rewatch the first season for clues to what they now know is actually going on. The delight of the second viewing of The Good Place Season 1 is that the writing, acting, and directing supports the ultimate reveal.

For a better understanding of the first season of The Good Place, it helps to understand the characters. The essential characters in the The Good Place Season 1 are:

Eleanor Shellstrop - Recently dead, she worked selling fake medicine to senior citizens and immediately realizes that she does not belong in The Good Place. She blames her terrible life on her divorced parents. She enlists Chidi to teach her ethics in order to become a better person so she might stay in The Good Place. Eleanor's subconscious begins to have an effect on the neighborhood and she is put in a bind when Michael asks her to he his assistant in finding the neighborhood's flaw. Chidi's ethics lessons begin to pay off and that leads Eleanor to take a drastic step that has profound and unexpected consequences,

Chidi Anagonye - Eleanor's assigned soulmate in The Good Place, he was an ethics professor in his life in Senegal. Almost immediately after meeting Eleanor and learning her truth, he develops a stomach ache. He begins teaching Eleanor ethics and finds himself most comfortable when doing that, as he rejects all of Michael's attempts to get him to take up another hobby. He is essentially good, but as he becomes more insecure and upset, he becomes more indecisive and he begins to pine for an actual soulmate,

Tahani - An arrogant former fundraiser, she instantly gets under Eleanor's skin. She has a mansion next to Eleanor's tiny home. She tries to organize the community and volunteers several of her peers to clean up the community after the storm. She talks constantly and is a raging egomaniac. When she realizes her soulmate is not who she thought he was, she begins to latch onto Chidi for emotional support,

Jianyu Li / Jason Mendoza - Tahani's soulmate, he was a Buddhist monk who is still observing a vow of silence. He quickly reveals to Eleanor that he, too, does not belong. In life, he was actually an amateur d.j. and douchebag who died while committing a crime. He has a little man cave and when Tahani finds it, it creates even more complications,

Janet - The interactive information system in The Good Place, she is able to provide information to the residents of the neighborhood. She is a neutral automaton that Jason begins to develop feelings for. She is the only one in the neighborhood who has the power to leave the neighborhood and journey to other places in the afterdeath. She is omniscient and somewhere in the neighborhood is a kill switch for her,

and Michael - The Architect of the neighborhood, this is his first attempt to make a neighborhood in The Good Place and he is the only architect who lives with his dead humans. He is thrilled by humanity and is looking out for the residents of the neighborhood. He is alarmed when his reality begins to fall apart and he tries desperately to hold the neighborhood together when it becomes clear that something does not belong in the community.

The Good Place stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson and Bell manages to embody one of her most unlikable characters of her career. Bell is hilarious when she plays Eleanor as an utter narcissist. Ted Danson manages to pull off a performance on par with . . . well, the lead actor in the movie that is a great analogy to the first season of The Good Place. Of the supporting performers, D'Arcy Carden rocks The Good Place with an amazing consistent deadpan that defines Janet.

The first season of The Good Place has moments in the middle that are tiresome to watch. Tahani is, essentially, a one-trick pony of a character. She is a raging narcissist who is sickly sweet and entirely false as she does good things with the goal of getting praise and recognition. Similarly, Jason is basically an idiot and near the middle of the season Chidi begins to develop to become paralytically indecisive. While Chidi's backstory is revealed to have indecision in his past, the early episodes have him making many snap decisions . . . which he becomes unable to make in the latter half of the season. William Jackson Harper plays Chidi well, but the character seems problematically rendered.

As well, the middle becomes somewhat repetitive and drawn out in the plotting. The episodes become bogged down in delaying characters telling the truth and waiting for the metaphorical shoe to drop starts to feel forced. Fortunately, the last few episodes manage to recover the momentum and move the show toward an exciting climax.

Ultimately, The Good Place Season 1 is a good addition to a rather narrow genre niche that is distinct and clever and it is quite enough to make viewers enthusiastic about rewatching the season and look forward to the second season.

For other works from the 2016 – 2017 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Twin Peaks - Season 3 ("The Return")
Doctor Who - Season 10
American Gods - Season 1
Glow - Season 1
Orange Is The New Black - Season 5
House Of Cards - Season 5
The Flash - Season 3
Supergirl - Season 2
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 3
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4
Sense8 - Season 2
Dear White People - Season 1
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 2
The Walking Dead - Season 7
Thirteen Reasons Why - Season 1
Grace And Frankie - Season 3
Iron Fist - Season 1
Love - Season 2
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
"Invasion!" - Arrow
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1

6/10

For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Effective, Economical, But Not Enduring In Aroma: Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo Still Thrills!


The Good: Decent cleaning power, Amazing aroma in bottle and shower, Good lather quality, Comparatively affordable for the quality, Good ingredients
The Bad: Scent does not endure on the hair
The Basics: Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo smells amazing, has great ingredients and works well, but its impressive scent is overcome by the aroma of any conditioner used with it.


Whenever I try something new - or new to me - one of the ways that I can ultimately tell how much I like the product is by how I seek out (or refuse to buy!) more products from the same brand. Not too long ago, I had my first experience with a Maple Holistics brand shampoo. Perhaps the greatest endorsement of the product line would be that as soon as I was out of the Lavender Shampoo For Dry Hair (reviewed here!), my wife and I immediately began hunting for other shampoos that sounded interesting from Maple Holistics. It did not take long before we found one that was instantly intriguing: Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo. As a lifelong lover all things mint, the promise of a shampoo featuring five different varieties of mint was too good to pass up!

Fortunately, the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo lived up to all the hype and quality I could hope for from the shampoo. After a month and a half of use, I'm finally ready to review the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo and it is hard not to sound like I am simply gushing with praise.

Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo is a shampoo that is not marketed with any clear gimmick, outside creating an experience analogous to a "cooling winter sensation." So, instead of making broad promises to fix split ends, restore dry hair or cut through greasy hair, the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo goes for more of a shampoo experience, as opposed to marketing restorative properties. And Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo lives up to its promises, but not in the most obvious way.

When I think of minty shampoos and conditioners that actually work, I often associate the scent with a cool, tingling sensation on my scalp. The intriguing thing about the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo is that it does not have that skin-freezing sensation while it works.

At $13.95 for an 8 fl. oz. bottle, Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo would be considered expensive . . . were it not for the fact that it lathers exceptionally well (requiring one to use less of it) and it lives up to its promise of creating a relaxing shower experience when in use and delivering a rejuvenating effect. In other words, spreads far and lives up to its promise to energize the consumer!

The Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo comes in an opaque blue bottle that is very smooth and can get slippery when wet. Inside the bottle, the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo is a pearlescent white shampoo with a medium consistency - thicker than many shampoos, not quite as thick as a hair conditioner.

Opening the bottle of the Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo, the consumer is greeted with a powerful herbal scent. Apparently, the combination of the five specific mints used in the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo results in an aroma that is most analogous to a peppermint and lavender blend. The aroma effervesces impressively in a hot shower; so much so that my wife has commented on my use of the shampoo from an adjacent room a few times when I used it. The scent is minty and spicy and delightful.

The Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo has interesting directions. After applying the Winter Blend Shampoo to one's hair, one is supposed to agitate it and allow it to set (osmose) for two to three minutes. I found, despite having hair that is more than a foot long in the back, that I was able to get away with using a dollop of the shampoo that was little more than a quarter in diameter. The Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo agitated to a nice foam from that and I was able to spread it through my entire mane.

When used properly, the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo cut through normal hair oils and daily dirt to leave my hair clean, manageable, and smooth. I highly recommend using the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo with a conditioner as it was quite effective at cutting through grease and thus has the potential to dry out hair with daily use. Its cleaning power cannot be overstated, though; periodically, my local grocery store will sell bacon at a deep discount and I will buy it in bulk, cooking up thirty pounds (or more) of bacon in one evening. After such a Bacon Day, I used the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo and neither my wife, nor I, could find a hint of bacon scent in my hair afterward. That is cleaning power!

On its own - without the accompanying Winter Blend conditioner - the mint and lavender scent of the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo does not endure in the hair. I did some objective testing with the Winter Blend Shampoo where I conditioned afterward with a scentless conditioner and later with Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle conditioner (reviewed here!) and a Garnier leave-in conditioner (reviewed here!). With an aromaless conditioner, neither my wife nor I could smell anything in my hair; with the other two, we smelled those conditioners. In other words, for as wonderful as the scent of the Maple Holistics Winter Blend Shampoo is during the shower experience, it does not endure in a noticeable way in the hair. This is not necessarily a bad thing and it was certainly not a dealbreaker for me, but it was peculiar to me that such an aromatic shampoo did not hold its scent even against a scentless conditioner!

All that said, the Maple Holistics Limited Edition Winter Blend Shampoo works well, stretches for thrifty shoppers like me, and creates a pretty amazing, rejuvenating shower experience time after time.

For other shampoo reviews, please check out my analysis of:
Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo W/Imbe Oil & Aloe
Just For Men ControlGX Grey Reducing Shampoo
Vidal Sassoon Pro Series Extreme Smooth Smoothing Shampoo

9/10

For other shampoo reviews, visit my Shampoo Review Index Page for an organized listing of the products I have reviewed!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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