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The Patient

Total Drama Action

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Before you guys tell me that there should already be a separate thread for TDA or that we already have somewhat of a general discussion topic, funny thing I should say is that while Island, World Tour, Revenge, All-Stars, Pahkitew all have their own topics, this one doesn't. Given the reputation that this season has had for being one of the worst, I can see why it never had its own thread up until now. After completing and going back to this season just recently, I thought I'd express my general thoughts on it before considering writing up a full fledged review because oh man, this season. It's....incredibly...

...okay. Hopefully, some fellow fans of this show will testify and express their own thoughts on it, because I'm curious. I would never put this on the same pedestal as say...Island, but I don't think Action was criminally bad either. 

 

Edited by Steel Sponge

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the A in TDA stands for almost because it came so close to being a worthy follow-up to TDI only to re-introduce owen for ratings, choose the two most uninteresting finalists rather than give courtney/harold/lindsay/anyone else who merged but beth a win, and they did gwent's storyline dirty just to set up the love triangle for TDWT which went on to become the most notably disliked aspect of that season. 

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Honestly the big problems with this season is it’s a lot of half baked ideas that don’t feel fully fleshed out and then not realizing which characters were completely fleshed our after the first season

-They make Trent obsessively compulsive only to cut him before they go all out with it?  I get that he’s boring but at least commit.

-The aforementioned Gwen/Duncan are going to end up being more than just friends at some point hint.  It was only around for a few episodes but if that’s “the biggest note” of this season, you know it’s a lackluster one.

-Leshawna is uninteresting without having Heather to play off of.

-Owen didn’t deserve to come back a second time after he got voted off.

-Justin is villainous for not even half the season and then all of a sudden, he’s just another contestant.  Yeah what Cha said about him being a precursor to Alejandro is the truth.

-I love Duncan, but he did not deserve to make it as far as he did, nor the win.

-Beth, I at least get why she stuck around for so long, but it honestly would have been more interesting to see Lindsay in the finals.  At least more people like her.

-Harold’s underdog story is cut supremely short, which is a damn shame because to me, he was the MVP of the season.

-I love the movies, you all should know that about me, but the whole picking a different genre each episode thing started to run out of ideas towards the end.  Even Chris broke the fourth wall in that pet companion episode to point that out.  Still rings true though.

 

Total Drama has had worse seasons than this (hello All-Stars), but this is honestly a filler season that leads to a great one following afterwards.

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This may not be the worst Total Drama season but my god, it's the most tiresome one I've experienced on my binge watch years ago. Storylines went nowhere, characters got uninteresting or really unappealing, Duncan vs Beth wasn't compelling to sit throughout, Gwen/Duncan romance foreshadowing that wasn't needed at all and the episodes were just not fun to watch. When you have 26 episodes, It totally drags on for too long to care what happens. Yeah, 26 episodes is necessary for a big cast but when you don't have interesting stories to grab me, the show loses its appeal and that's what Action did to me, not the mention some of cast were thrown to aftermath episodes, so yeah.

Definitely the weakest season of the original cast trilogy.

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I said I was planning on writing a full-fledged review of this season. I didn't imagine that this season would have quite enough material for me to discuss, so here I go (it's in spoiler tags given that it's fairly long):

Spoiler

Positives:

Chris Mclean and Chef: After each season, their respective characters become more entertaining. I also got to give some respect for Action for making giving Chef the most presence for this season compared to the rest, thanks to his illegal alliance with DJ, a subplot that i wish got established more. Heck, their relationship and screen time during the penultimate finale episode "Mutiny on the Soundstage" actually managed to make the episode itself fairly interesting.

The Aftermath shows: Call me crazy, but I felt that this was a creative way to fill in what would pretty much be the empty slots of Action's excruciating length. I also feel that this compensates for Geoff and Bridgette's early boot as the first three Aftermath episodes also served to establish their characters. It does so by creating a plot element in which Geoff progressively turns into a clone of Chris in contrast to how he was one of the nicest contestants on Island, but his characterization was clearly not played for laughs, it was acknowledged in-universe for Aftermath III, and the growing tension between him and his co-host does get resolved in the same episode.

Courtney: Now here's a character that I've found to be a highlight towards the second half of Action, whereas most others would think otherwise. You either found her antics to be entertaining, or you either found her to be annoying, coupled by her immunity streak. In my own defense, Courtney's growing obsession over winning and losing was prominent towards her character during the special that came before Action.

I felt like it was a matter of time before she could be added to the season's roster halfway in, because she was one of the most interesting characters. I grew to like her antics throughout. While I did find some of her antics to be kinda annoying and her immunity streak to be ridiculous, her characterization eventually gets better once as her weaknesses unveil during the last two challenges she competed in. She did a fine job as an apparent replacement antagonist for Justin, and very amusing for me to say, she was one antagonist I've had better patience with compared to all the others that followed until the Ice Dancers from the Ridonculous Race.

Heather: Expect Heather to actually pop up as one of my main highlights for every other season excluding Pahkitew. While her character arc in this season is mainly focused on her being the most disliked contestant and slowly moving past the karma she received on her end, but she's always an interesting presence. The distinction with the Gaffers going along the theme of keeping friends close but keeping enemies closer is what makes her and Leshawna's play off stand out.

In fact, I do quite like a chunk of the characters, not just Heather, Leshawna, Courtney, and Duncan, but I also appreciated the shift in focus and establishment for the other particular contestants: Harold, Lindsay, and yes...even Beth.

All after all that's said and done, it is definitely not without its negatives.

Negatives:

Justin: After playing a good antagonistic role in "Total Drama (x4) Island," I really felt like his character potential was absolutely wasted in Action, whereas he ends up being upstaged by Courtney and where his only heinous act was having Gwen convince the other Grips to vote off Trent as he found out that he was throwing off challenges for her, and to a lesser extent, having Duncan to play off of during "The Princess Pride." I appreciate giving him more screentime, but his character instantly stopped being interesting once he transitioned back into being an ordinary contestant. I'm even surprised that he lasted as long as he did even after losing his charm in "Full Metal Drama."

Gwent breakup: While I'm still on the topic of the breakup, let's talk about the relationship that ended way too prematurely. I've read somewhere that this was a first based on an executive decision to have Total Drama show how short-lived teenage relationships tend to be. Looking into this through the series' timeline, their relationship didn't even last like...15 or 20 days. This was also apparently done to hint Gwuncan during Aftermath II and the reunion special, as well as to hint Duncan and Courtney's eventual breakup in World Tour. ...I will get to that sooner than later.

Owen: I would've minded his departure from the competition halfway, but bringing him back near the finale was absolutely unnecessary. Not only does this prove how over-saturated he tends to be during the first three seasons, but it proves how much of a favorite he is towards the staff, so of course he had to be brought back and suffice to say, his subplot as a saboteur well into the Final 4 wasn't very compelling.

The Killer Grips' losing streak: This is more of a nitpick. One of the three times that the team managed to win a challenge was due to Gwen making up for Trent costing his team's previous losses, but the fact that this still continued until after "Ocean's Eight - Or Nine" was where it got tedious.

The length: Last but also certainly least, Action went on longer than it needed to. I can understand why, given that Island's success gave it the budget for another 26 episode season, but this resulted into a good amount of filler.

With all that said and doe, let's move onto my thoughts on the season's characters and their eliminations...

Geoff and Bridgette: After being reduced to the couple who make out more often than not since the Season 1 special leading up Action, it would be no surprise that they would be the first two to go. I wish that they didn't continue this gimmick and that there was a more subtle reason for letting them go so early, but I still got to give the season some credit for developing them better in the Aftermath episodes.

(Izzy comes back 2/4 into the season.)

Trent: I can understand why he only makes it this far, but it's too bad that his obsessive compulsiveness and unwillingness to compete against Gwen weren't enough to make me feel any more interested in his character.

Gwen: And of course, after owing the Killer Grips for being a distraction to Trent from winning challenges for his team, she gets the boot by deliberately sabotaging her own team from winning. Expected, but it's not something that keeps me invested in her character either.

DJ: It's like I've said before when I said that I wish there was some more focus on his illegal alliance with Chef. I don't mind him being eliminated at this point. Besides expressing his talent in cooking and his guilt about the alliance, I would've wanted to see Chef make him grow more of a spine - which, of course, is the main reason Chef forms an alliance with DJ.

Izzy: I'll admit that her E-Scope gimmick got old, so I appreciate that she got an early boot before being accepted back since she wasn't voted off as Izzy. Izzy has always been one of my favorites, so it was pleasant enough to see her stick around until after developing another zany alter-ego (Explosivo).

(Owen gets brought back near the end of the season.)

Heather: It was good to have her while she lasted. I was somewhat surprised she managed to last as long as she spent most of the season as a stick in the mud and/or trying to cope with her hair loss since her elimination on Island.

Leshawna: Sorry Claps, but contrary to what you thought of her character on Action, I think she made for more interesting ground. I liked the pay off between her feud with Heather. One example being in "3:10 to Crazytown" where Leshawna develops an embarrassing hairstyle from the humidity, as an usual way to even out Heather's hair loss. Then there's the point where Leshawna inadvertently causes tension between herself and the other remaining contestants in "Million Dollar Babies" when she's revealed to have dished some dirt against them during a spa day with her cousin, a reward in which she fake cried her way into getting. That results into Leshawna apologizing to all of them in the form of a cheer (enough for Duncan and Harold to accept it enough to vote off Heather instead). Additionally, I liked how the episode has Leshawna and Heather toning down their feud after the latter's elimination, as well as Heather not very upset about what Leshawna has said of her behind her back considering their rivalry and because she normally does the same thing.

Enough of that though. Because of Harold being on the same team with her, we also got him and Leshawna developing a strong friendship. It developed pretty slowly, but it was nice enough to see how it developed. Although, I do wish that her alliance with Harold and Duncan didn't get swept under the mat by being eliminated the episode that came right after she managed to strike the deal, I also felt she had a good enough run and that her elimination made for a way to motivate Harold to make it to the final two.

Justin: I've already said my piece on his character being wasted in Action, as I felt that he shouldn't have lasted this long since I felt how little he accomplished as a character, but I'll definitely take his elimination as it is.

Lindsay: Oh man, I can imagine that her elimination was one of the hardest decisions to make. I absolutely loved Lindsay throughout the season and the way that the season establishes her character to ensure that despite not being the brightest, she can still be a formidable player, enough to make it close to the finale. It's kinda hard to imagine Beth's elimination in the episode, due to Courtney not having a complicated relationship with her prior, and I do feel that Lindsay accidentally casting a vote against her own self was probable. I wish she lasted longer, but the heartwarming moment she shares with Beth compensates for her elimination.

Harold: Now if there's an elimination I can certainly dispute with, it's Harold's elimination. The fact that Harold himself disputes only making it as far as fifth place goes to show how much I would've preferred for him to make it to the final two. Of course, he ends up getting the boot after failing to convince the others of Owen being a saboteur. 

Courtney: Her complex relationship goals for Duncan and being driven into insanity over winning the game were two pretty solid factors towards her elimination. I've already said my piece on my I've come to actually enjoy her character on Action, so moving on to....

Owen: Definitely didn't deserve to make it as far as he did. I don't necessarily hate Owen as a character, but I could only handle so much of him and bringing him back near the finale didn't make matters any better.

Duncan and Beth: These two being the season's finale pair...I can take it or leave it. Jokes on me, I wanted Duncan to make it to the final two since he was my biggest favorite at the time Action was airing. Beth, I can understand why she made it as a far, being the underdog choice. She was also one of the most unexpected choices for a finalist. I should give credit for Beth being a finalist legitimately surprising me, but I still would've preferred for either Lindsay or Harold to crown as an underdog finalist. Not the most satisfying choice for a final two in retrospect. Duncan and Beth don't provide as much chemistry as the finalists, but I can at least tell that the writers were trying with that.

Overall, Action is not a very significant season, and while most would consider it as mediocre at best, I thought it was alright. A decent 6/10 if you will. While it's a couple of steps backwards compared to Island, and comprised of filler episodes and half-baked ideas, Action was still a tolerable season with barely any damage done. I'll even admit that this isn't even in my bottom 3 when it comes to ranking the seasons. That's how you know that I have quite a hit/miss relationship with the Total Drama franchise.

It's easy for me to understand why World Tour is hailed as a major improvement, I can't really say for sure whether or not it is an improvement in my eyes until I write my review for it. I've already finished watching that season, so a review for it will turn up from me very soon.

 

Best episodes: Rock 'n Rule, Million Dollar Babies, Celebrity Manhunt's TDA Reunion Show, Full Metal Drama, Masters of Disasters

Worst episodes: The Princess Pride, Crouching Courtney Hidden Owen, Super Hero-ld, 2008: A Space Owen, The Chefshank Redemption

 

Edited by Steel Sponge

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