So 2014’s felt like kind of a sucky year. I don’t really write about current events, focusing on entertainment where my knowledge is stronger, but increasingly the stuff I write about has been caught up in political sucktitude. Nerd culture’s been basically caught in a civil war for over four months now (yeah, I can’t believe that it’s still going), and with the release of The Interview and the production of Steve Carrell and Gore Verbinski’s Pyongyang canceled, scary precedent is set for cyberterrrorists to effectively censor movies. Combined with violent displays of institutional racism at its most visible since the Civil Rights era (said visibility mainly due to social media as traditional news outlets have been reluctant and at times prohibited from covering it), the Middle East continuing to crumble apart, a government likely to be even more ineffective at getting anything done than ever for at least the next couple years, there’s plenty of reasons to feel bad about the world.
So it feels like the worst time to lose The Colbert Report, a show that for its 9 years on the air managed to make the suckiness of the world a bit more bearable. It’s not the only show to turn bad news into brilliant comedy: The Daily Show‘s still going and Last Week Tonight‘s more activist-y slant might actual result in more tangible good for the world. I’m looking forward to The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore’s attempt at replacement for the Report, and who knows, maybe Stephen Colbert’s Late Show on CBS will manage to innovate network TV and live up to the Report‘s sheer level of fun when it finally premieres next August. But it’s a long wait to find out.
Stephen Colbert the character may be “immortal”, but the nature of his show and his real-world political stunts was timely, so the loss of the Report stings more than it does for other shows. Where other canceled shows can easily be rewatched, old Colbert Report episodes quickly become historical curiosities. For the character to truly be immortal, it has to stay relevant. Will there still be Americone Dream ice cream? Might we see Lady Nocturne ever published? Does the Marvel universe version have a future? Whatever the case, he’ll stay remembered by those who loved him these past 9 years, and let’s hope we’ll meet again.
The Legend of Korra‘s final episodes launched online immediately after the last Colbert ended, so there’s been a few tough goodbyes recently. Book Four wasn’t perfect. The show’s always been overstuffed, but having lost the budget for a full episode makes this season feel like it could use a lot of extra time. The show even acknowledges that the Varrick/Zhu Li relationship, as cute as it gets, isn’t really developed that well. Aspects could have used more originality; old-Toph being basically Yoda is fine, but they could have done so many more creative things with Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s best character, while the imperialist political plot felt like more of a retread of the conflicts in Airbender.
But where this season shined was with Korra’s personal arc, how this young woman struggling with depression and PTSD is able to find meaning in her suffering and learn from her past mistakes to offer redemption to others who would seem beyond redemption. The two-part finale was filled with intense action, surprising sacrifices, spiritual reflection, and a sense of new beginnings to stir the imagination, even as this is the last we’re going to see of these characters for a while barring a potential comics series. And the last scene. That last scene! If this is why Nick’s pulled the show from their main network exclusive to their website and digital side-channel Nicktoons, I’m so disappointed in them. Yet I’m so pleased they let the series end in this groundbreaking, progressive, and oh-so-squeeeee-worthy way at all.