"I'll just get my gear."

Cobra Kai (Season 1)

I don’t have the attachment many people I know have to the KARATE KID movies. But I’m kinda into their mythology, especially after my recent dip into the more over-the-top b-movie villainy of part III. So I excitedly took advantage of a free window (until September 11th) to watch the ten half-hour-ish episodes in the first season of the premium Youtube series Cobra Kai.

Even in today’s gold rush for nostalgic i.p. this seems like a too-good-to-be-true sequel scenario, especially for my interests. Ralph Macchio – now actually older than Pat Morita was in the first movie! – returns as Daniel LaRusso, but so does William Zabka as part 1 nemesis Johnny Lawrence, and even though Macchio gets top billing, Zabka is treated as the underdog hero, like Iceman Chambers in UNDISPUTED II, or like I wanted them to do with Martin Kove’s villainous sensei John Kreese after seeing him down and out in the opening scenes of KARATE KID III. Broke, washed up, divorced, drinking Coors all day, still listening to Ratt and wearing Van Halen t-shirts, Johnny attempts to re-open the Cobra Kai dojo in a strip mall next to a vape store. But he’s so bad at salesmanship he ends up having only one student, a nice kid named Miguel (Xolo Mariduena, Parenthood) who tempers some of his worst tendencies while being empowered by his macho tough love and “strike first, strike hard, no mercy” philosophy.

Meanwhile, Daniel-san has gone pretty much the way you’d expect. He and his wife Amanda (Courtney Henggeler, KRISTIN’S CHRISTMAS PAST) sell Porsches and used cars at LaRusso Auto Group, his giant face smirking from the billboards. They have two kids and a huge house. He lets the practice room gather dust but uses karate and bonsai trees as promotional gimmicks. The show sees him the way I do in the movies: kind of a dick. He still holds a grudge against Johnny even though he’s the one that won. And when he finds out about Cobra Kai coming back he schemes to make things hard for Johnny. The worst one: negotiating in bad faith like he’s gonna buy the strip mall in order to get the current owner to raise the rent.

It turns into THE BAD NEWS BEARS. Funny inappropriate drunk gathers misfit kids, tries to teach them, fails at first, they learn from each other. Johnny is too stuck in the ’80s to be on Facebook, otherwise he’d be ranting about safe spaces and participation trophies. He thinks he’s toughening kids up by calling them cruel names and having them punch each other in the face while he has another beer in his office. In one case it makes a big difference: a kid he calls “Lip” (Jacob Bertrand, “High School Kid,” READY PLAYER ONE) because of his cleft palate scar storms out, but comes back later calling himself “Hawk” and sporting a blue mohawk and giant hawk tattoo across his shoulders. And they really do make you forget about his scar. I loved this humanization of somebody who could out of context be a standard Cobra Kai thug like part III’s Snake.

Being stuck in his teen bully ways, Johnny has a hard time being surrounded by kids he sees as nerds and pussies. But his lessons start to work. The approach to fights is more phony but more fun than the original movie. These kids know plenty of moves, do flips, jump on tables. They gain self esteem and stand up to the popular kids, even convert some.

Yeah, it’s not only about burnt out Karate Adults – it’s at least half a show about teens. We also meet Daniel’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser, voice in SON OF THE MASK), who has grown out of karate, but starts to date Miguel, which she has to keep secret from her dad because of his Cobra Kai grudge. And Johnny has a son named Robby (Tanner Buchanan, Designated Survivor) who hates him for abandoning him. He’s introduced as a pony-tailed, skateboarding laptop thief who comes up with kind of a Terry Silver scheme to get back at his deadbeat dad: go get a job at LaRusso Auto Group without telling them who he is. In the process he not only reveals himself to be nicer than we initially assumed, but becomes Daniel’s karate student.

That’s a cool thing about this show – Johnny wanting to bring back the bad guys of karate has many positive repercussions. It reawakens Daniel’s love for karate, and the lessons of Mr. Miyagi, allows him to make a difference in Robby’s life, maybe even reconnect him with his father. And as Johnny watches the nice kids he’s responsible for learn the lessons he got from John Kreese when he was their age he starts to think oh fuck, have I been fed a load of shit my whole life? It has fun indulging in the “in my day we were tough guys” shit and then starts to show how hollow that all is.

Seeing Zabka sell that realization with just the expression on his face is the whole reason for the show as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure he was seeking an acting comeback – I guess he’s been directing music videos, and a short he wrote and produced was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 – but in the public consciousness he’s permanently an icon of the ’80s (JUST ONE OF THE GUYS) and b-movies (SHOOTFIGHTER I-II, PYTHON I-II), and this feels like a rebirth. He has the handsome face not of a current movie star, but a former one. So just seeing him be the focus of this thing, let alone have his jerky character redeemed, has an irresistible triumph-of-the-underdog appeal.

I watch more movies and less TV than is standard for a modern pop culture savvy person. I don’t want to see everything stretched out across a bunch of episodes. But I think in this case it really works. You get into the little episodic stories and then when something comes up that ties into the movies (or even when they have flashbacks) it’s kind of thrilling. I’m absolutely not saying it’s as good as CREED and CREED II, but the approach to sequelization is a little like that other followup to a John G. Avildsen sports drama series. It’s exciting when they go to the old apartment building or mini-golf place from the movie, or when grandma comes to visit and you realize it’s Randee Heller returning as Mrs. LaRusso, or when Johnny recounts events from the first film and they seem very different from his perspective. But mostly it’s cool to see how the lives of the kids reflect or reverse what happened to the previous generation in the movies, and how their mentors try to use what they’ve learned. Or even better, how the grown up nemeses behave when they find themselves stuck in an ancient teenage rivalry. There’s a scene where it seems like they might get into a fight and Amanda LaRusso doesn’t try to break it up, she just laughs at their dumb bullshit and they get embarrassed.

Layers are slowly added to these two-dimensional characters and philosophies. Almost all of the main characters go through some sort of transformation. By the end I was sort of rooting for everybody. Even Daniel! I was surprised how excited I was when he put on the headband. And later I was yelling for him to break out the Miyagi-Do gi.

The show is created by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (of the HAROLD AND KUMAR movies) and Josh Heald (of the HOT TUB TIME MACHINE movies) and yes, it has jokes. But the emphasis is honestly more on the character drama. I wouldn’t really call it an action drama, but like the movies it uses many of the traditions I love including multiple training montages, a tournament, a special move, and a little fight brotherhood. Also there’s a scene where he’s watching IRON EAGLE, which is a pretty good movie.

The series stunt coordinator is veteran Power Rangers stuntman Hiro Koda (HANNA, THE GREAT WALL). Simon Rhee – Dae Han from BEST OF THE BEST 1 and 2! – is credited as a fight instructor for one episode.

I haven’t yet seen any of season 2 yet, so please don’t spoil anything for me. You can imagine I’m excited for what was teased about it at the end of season 1, and the complicated corner Johnny was painted into. I know they’re doing a season 3, in which of course I’m hoping for the return of the evil millionaire karate master/polluter/undercover operative Terry Silver. But I think there are even higher levels they could take it to than that. Obviously it would be amazing if they could convince two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank to at least do a scene as Mr. Miyagi’s only other student Julie Pierce. This is pure speculation, but I think she might be cool enough to do it! The other thing that would be amazing would be to bring in Jaden Smith as Dre Parker, the remake KARATE KID. I’m gonna guess Will Smith, James Lasseter and Caleeb Pinkett of Overbrook Entertainment probly just got producer credits because they owned the rights and not for any sort of creative role, but still. Maybe they could make it happen.

And what about this? Taki Tamurai, the Okinawan girl who teamed with Daniel and Mr. Miyaga to gather treasures in the cartoon. Let’s see what happened to her. Some Roger Rabbit shit.

No matter what happens, I look forward to more Johnny Lawrence karate adventures.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 5th, 2019 at 3:37 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Drama, Reviews, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

64 Responses to “Cobra Kai (Season 1)”

  1. Go watch Season 2. It’s truly awesome.

  2. “Taki Tamurai, the Okinawan girl who teamed with Daniel and Mr. Miyaga to gather treasures in the cartoon. Let’s see what happened to her.”

    They need to make this happen!

  3. Glad you enjoyed it. I got CREED vibes from it as well. It feels like they’re celebrating the continuity and building from it, not strip-mining it for cheap nostalgia.

  4. One of the biggest surprises from last year, this show was better than it had any business being.

  5. Obviously I love this show. I think it’s greatest strength is how it started as a comedy to make people feel safe that haha karate kid and Johnny’s Lawrence is the hero haha. But by episode five it’s like oh shit this is good drama. I really care what happens to him but also if he wins I care is that hurts Daniel.

    They definitely created a great group of young characters to carry on the next generation too. They go through some of the same things but it’s different in 2018 with social media and bullying awareness.

    I believe season 2 is available free soon too. Youtube is giving up on the Premium model. I think you’d like their Step Up and Impulse series too.

  6. Okay, I’m convinced. I guess I’m gonna give it a shot this weekend.

  7. The very existence of this review is the sickest burn on THE WIRE I’ve ever seen.

  8. MM: nice! LOL

  9. I only saw the freefirst 2 eps, enjoyed it a lot, and been meaning to catch the rest ever since. I saw in the news that all YouTube premium shows will be free with (hopefully skippable) ads starting Sept 26, so I will be catching it in the near future.

  10. Whoa Vern decides to review a TV season and it’s from one of my favorite shows out now? It’s like christmas coming early or something. Haven’t read the review yet will do in a few with my cup of coffee but pretty thrilled you gave it a shot cause its knee deep in a lot of the tropes you’ve always loved. Season 2 is a bit more bombastic but I did dig where it ended up. This show had no business ever being this good but here we are. Now if anybody from the creative team is reading this: PLEASE MAKE TERRY SILVER MIGUEL’S DAD!

  11. Agreed, season one was really good (haven’t tried season two yet). It surprised me over and over again how good it was.

    And there is a brief reference to Terry Silver! When I started watching it I sort of thought they would call back only to part one and ignore the more silly parts two and three. But, no, apparently it’s all in continuity because Silver is mentioned in that board meeting scene in one of the episodes. I love that KK Part 3 actually happened in this continuity even though it’s completely ridiculous and this is more grounded. That also reminds me of Creed, which doesn’t hide from Rocky IV, the most ridiculous of all the Rocky movies (Creed actually leans pretty hard into the Rocky IV history).

    Any way, good stuff. Zabka in particular gives a a lot of great non-verbal acting.

  12. There’s been some talk that maybe Elisabeth Shue might drop in and reprise her role from the first film and on that note, any thought of considering The Boys if you ever do another TV show, Vern? It’s just a bit different from most of the rest of the superhero films and TV shows out there.

  13. Wow, a TV series review. You had me at Daniel-san goes the way of rich Rocky. I just wish he also had a robot butler that served drinks. Maybe in season 3?

  14. I have a bonsai-sized amount of love for THE KARATE KID, which I enjoyed as a teen ROCKY riff back in the day, but pretty much loved every minute of Cobra Kai Season 1. I’m a sucker for these father/son deals where there are no easy ways to restore broken relationships.

    Zabka’s Johnny is the anchor-point for me. I like that his learned philosophy of Strike First Strike Hard is never dropped for a more “woke” millennial version (which would probly be “Coffee First Then Let Me Think About It”), but he grows into a much softer hearted guy toward himself, evidenced in his acknowledgment of the effect Sensei Kreese had on him. And they give his back story a fair shake with the asshole step dad (Ed Asner is still alive!!??).

    Some of his comments at the dojo made me laugh out loud “Word of advice, if you’ve got shit teeth, don’t smile”. And it’s kind of a refreshing honesty that Hawk, as an impressionable teen, takes his “change the script” admonition to the extreme level and becomes a KARATE KID 1 Cobra Kai asshole by the last episode. Even Miguel becomes a jerk with the whole Win At All Costs thing. The residue of decades old creeds, and Johnny’s “awokening” happens slowly.

  15. So is this show gonna give Martin Kove enough clout that we can finally get a STEELE JUSTICE 2: IRON WILL? Cuz if not, what is this even for?

  16. I consider myself a huge fan of the movies and fairly pop-culture savvy, so I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know this was an actual show until fairly recently. (I guess because it was on Youtube I figured it was like a series of 10 minute Funny or Die-style sketches). But now having binge-watched Season 1, I think it’s more than a show – it’s kind of a fucking miracle. It’s Undisputed II meets The Wrestler meets American Pie, yet juggles those tones effortlessly. It’s written and acted with sensitivity and wit, it’s woke and inclusive while still having a hilarious edge, and the fight scenes are better than anything in the movies. It’s a show so good I have trouble deciding what’s my favorite part (even though I’ll probably have to go with Zabka’s performance that’s so masterful and well-worn I think I have to call it iconic).

    The one issue I’ve got with the season isn’t really it’s fault – I hated the ending. Like, really hated it, which I guess means it’s doing it’s job. Unlike Vern, I wasn’t rooting for everyone at the end, in fact I was actively rooting against the same characters the show made me love the first 9 episodes. Miguel, “Hawk” and even Aisha all act like straight-up assholes during the tournament- to the crowd (and to anyone watching the finale without context and without knowing what these poor kids went through), they’re the villains. So it’s less of a “I’m torn but I’m rooting for everyone” ending like Warrior, and more like an X-Men First Class-style supervillain origin story which is clever and unexpected but also depressing.

    I’m sure Season 2 and hopefully 3 will end things on a more positive note, but as for now, all I have to say is I think I actually like this better than the Creed series (which I love). Also on a related note, The Force Awakens should be ashamed of itself. When you watch Cobra Kai and see how they play with and extend the mythology while still being respectful, it makes “let’s uh…do our third Death Star in 7 movies” seem absolutely insulting.

  17. Well, I should say I was rooting for Johnny and for Daniel and Robbie. The Cobra Kai kids have turned into assholes by that point, but I had sympathy for them because of where they came from. I just love that they FINALE SPOILER win (fair and square I believe?) and Johnny clearly doesn’t feel good about it. I really don’t know where it will go next.

  18. Season 2 now available free too. I won’t spoil anything but I think Vern will be very happy.

    Neal2zod, agree. Nostalgia itself isn’t the problem when it can be executed as well as Creed and Cobra Kai.

  19. I am so glad that you wrote this review because I didn’t know Season 2 was free now and I refused to set a youtube account for one show. I guess my weekend is sorted.

    I loved all 3 Karate Kid movies (not sure why they only made 3 ever) but I thought this show was going to be absolutely terrible. I can’t believe how good it turned out and I am still not sure how they pulled it off.

    The best part of this entire show is when Johnny recaps for Miguel the plot of the first movie from his point of view. That jerk LaRusso strolls into town, steals his girl, attacks him for no reason, etc. I was fully loving the show already but that scene alone pushed it into genius territory. I am very excited for the next season.

  20. Yep Fred – It looks like Youtube is divvying out Season 2 for free a few episodes at a time. (Season 1 is also on Blu Ray – I would totally buy this series after it’s all over to keep with the movies). I don’t think I’ve watched TV on a weekly basis (i.e. non Binge Watch) in years, but I might have to give it a try for this. Hopefully I’ll remember what happens from week to week in my old age! And yes, just when I lost hope that we’re all stuck in a never-ending masturbatory nostalgia loop, and the studios are just feeding us old garbage repackaged as something new, Cobra Kai and Creed show that legacy sequels can work in ways that new properties just can’t (I mean, you COULD do the story of Cobra Kai season 1 if there never was a Karate Kid series, but it wouldn’t have half the impact).

    Hallsy – Well, technically there was 4, but even I forget about The Next Karate Kid all the time. As Vern said, it’d be incredible if Hilary Swank (or Michael Ironside or Walton Goggins!) showed up. In fact I was thinking the other day for a series where people only like half the movies, Cobra Kai really shows how strong and memorable the mythology of the movies was. I think most people would lose their shit if Tamlyn Tomita or Yuji Okumoto (the love interest and villain of Part II) showed back up. Hell, I’d even lose it if Robyn Lively or Karate’s Bad Boy Mike Barnes from Part III came back (I think the creators have to know Terry Silver is the only thing people like about Part III so they HAVE to be trying to get him back). And not to keep harping on Star Wars, but I wonder why I’m salivating at the idea of each and every character from the Karate Kid movies coming back for this TV show, but the return of the Emperor in The Rise of Skywalker just reeks of lack of imagination and makes me do the “jerking off” motion with my hand? Maybe I’m a hypocrite, or maybe 2019 will be the year everyone realizes that Kreese has been a better character than the fucking Emperor this whole time.

  21. I signed up for both seasons and then cancelled but now that season 2 will be streamed for free I’ll be able to watch it again on my new smart tv as opposed to my mobile phone like I did originally. Crom is good. Martin Kove is fucking masterful in season 2. Has one of the funniest scenes I’ve seen all year in it (you’ll know it when you see it). neal about that things will end on a good note by season 2? well….that’s all I’ll say but as the kids say season 3 should be lit.

  22. Oh and I’ve completely avoided Star Wars Without Lucas so far. No sequels no spin offs and even though I hear EPISODE VIII has a lot of Lynchian influences including Laura Fucking Dern I didn’t bother. I watched like 12 min of TFA on TBS before changing the channel and it was some of the boringest shit I’ve sat through in recent memory. JJ Abrams remains the most homogenously inauthenthic mainstream blockbuster maker I think I’ve ever witnessed. I only pray he does not get his mitts on Superman now that he is apparently in good with WB. With that said that hacky son of a bitch finally got me curious about Disney’s STAR WARS for the first time ever. By bringing back my 2 favorite saga characters. Billy Dee’s Lando and Sheev Muthafucking Palpatine. So yeah nostalgia bait works yet again. If he squeezes a Mace Windu, Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon force ghost cameo in there I’ll at least have to youtube those scenes.

  23. man i had heard nothing but good things about this show, and i have a lot of nostalgia surrounding the (in hindsight kinda shitty and problematic) karate kid movies, because they were something my dad and I shared when I was really young — so i was fully onboard for it – but then it turned out i have zero patience left for this sort of toxic-dude redemption story. after 6 episodes of watching johnny emotionally abuse kids i was over it :/

  24. Damn, I thought the whole series 2 was free. I just watched the first 2 eps and dying to watch more.

    I think we can all agree that LaRusso is a dick now right?

    And Vern – yeah, it would be “amazing” to bring in Jaden Smith. It would be amazingly stupid to bring Jaden Smith into anything ever.

  25. “Toxic dude redemption story” is a fair description, but it’s also a great hook for, and why this show is so brilliant. I wouldn’t be watching it if it were about LaRusso’s mid-life crisis. I’ve admitted to finding Johnny’s ignorant comments funny, but it’s more a laugh/cringe affair. Johnny’s trajectory applies to my current favorite Kurosawa quote – villains have reached their destination, heroes are always evolving. I’d rather see a slow but steady awakening in a character than a sudden bi-polar shift into being a good guy. It beats a lifetime of ignorance. And it’s truer to life, at least in my experience.

    Am only one episode in to season 2 and I’ll be curious to see what they do with Kreese, now that he’s SPOILER bared the olive branch. I think it might be a stretch to go into his back story to give a redemptive arc, but then again I never knew I needed to see a series about a toxic jock from a minor 80’s classic getting his honor back. This is good news, because now we might get a Clubber series with Mr T!

  26. Broddie – didn’t JJ already try to make Superman back in the 00s with Lex Luthor as a Super-powered alien? Because, like Lex Luthor is the one thing mom and pop can identify with Superman and General Zod is apparently too much of a deep cut? (See: “Khan” in Star Trek into Darkness, or The Empire/The Death Star *cough* I mean “The First Order” and “Starkiller Base” in The Force Awakens). I’ll actually defend Abrams a little bit – his movies look good and they’re pretty well-paced. He gets good performances out of well-cast actors and he doesn’t appear to have a reputation as a giant asshole. If he wants to keep making nostalgia-bait, that’s his prerogative, I just wish he had a Fury Road or a Creed in him. And I can say with certainty if he was the showrunner of “Cobra Kai”, it would literally just be “Daniel teaches Miguel karate. Johnny is still an asshole and teaches his asshole son Robby karate. Robby and Miguel fight at the tournament and Miguel beats him with a souped-up variation of the crane kick. THE END”.

    ron – re: this being a “toxic dude redemption story”, I noticed in today’s culture a lot of people don’t want to see redemption stories, especially when the subject is a white male. How about the stories from their victims? When do the people they’ve treated like shit get a voice? And I absolutely get that! Did anyone here watch Graves, that short-lived pre-Trump sitcom with Nick Nolte as a fictional fuckup President who spends each week trying to right the wrongs of his administration (by helping immigrants, gay people, Native Americans, the environment, etc…). It’s a simple but funny concept that came out at the worst possible time because once Trump won the election and started fucking everything up on a daily basis, people became less interested in watching a bad man’s redemption and more about “How about you not act like an asshole in the first place?”. Long story short, I get that Johnny’s antics are a giant turn-off to you. I won’t tell anyone who’s already spent 6 episodes giving something a shot to spend more of their precious time on the last 4 episodes. But I think the show runners aren’t oblivious to how you feel and they might pleasantly surprise you where it goes.

  27. I love the show, but I do find the “outrageously un-PC!” elements a bit odd given that the KARATE KIDs weren’t raucous PORKY’S/REVENGE OF THE NERDS-style comedies or Reagan-tinted action films, they were PG rated, family-friendly films with the occasional hint of edge. It doesn’t offend me per say, there’s just a slightly weird disconnect between it and the legacy they’re trying to revive. Vern and other critics seem to think it’s depiction and not endorsement, but I’m not entirely convinced

  28. Not that I’m saying the show agrees with what Johnny says per say, but I think it does have a hint of “people are too sensitive these days”

  29. After seeing a comedian get nothing but grief from the internet these past few weeks just for doing his job I don’t think “people are too sensitive these days” is exactly an extraterrestrial concept.

  30. If you are talking about Chapelle, keep in mind that in the 60s Lenny Bruce got dragged to court for his stand up routines and in the 70s George Carlin was arrested on stage for performing his “seven dirty words” bit at a festival. Chapelle only got some bad reviews for one of his three freely available and 100% uncensored Netflix specials.

    Sometimes I think “Yeah, people are really too sensitive these days”, but it’s not the group of people that is accused of it. I mean, the so called “cancel culture” just downvoted him on Rotten Tomatoes and moved on. It were his defenders who made a huge scandal out of it and simply wouldn’t shut up and turned this absolute non-issue into a matter of free speech!

  31. Celebrities defending celebrities againt “cancel culture” is probably the one thing I could give two shits about.

    I also am sad that people can’t accept trans humans and have to be assholes about it.

  32. To me, what a comedian chooses to focus his jokes on reveals character. Chapelle chose to use all of his talents of observation and humor to attack an already vulnerable populace. He has no dog in this fight. Trans rights do not affect him one way or the other. But what he decided to do was take the time and effort to craft material that would make life for those people worse, for no particular reason other than somebody told him not to and he thinks that gives him the moral high ground. In doing so, he gave voice to exactly the kind of tired arguments that have made life for this group hell since the dawn of time. That’s what this beloved millionaire chose to focus on. That’s what Dave Chapelle is about in 2019. Not any of the actual problems facing the world today. Not anything that even has anything to do with him or his life. What he wanted to do was stand onstage in front of the world and take the most vulnerable human beings in modern society down a peg.

    What a fucking hero.

    This choice says a lot about the kind of person Dave Chapelle is. He is 100% free to be that person. And I’m free to not want to deal with him ever again, based 100% on those choices.

    He made a few funny sketches 20 years ago. Why do we care what this asshole has to say about anything?

  33. I feel like I should clarify that I wasn’t defending Chappelle. I haven’t seen his special yet and don’t know what he was exactly saying. I was just pointing out that it’s weird to say “Everybody is so easily offended today” when in the past comedians were thrown into jail for swearing on stage, while all that happened to Chappelle was a handful of critics giving him bad reviews and/or disagreeing with some of his jokes. That doesn’t seem to me like today is really a bad time for comedy. (Or even “comedy”, considering that shit like FAMILY GUY is in its millionsth season and MacFarlane just won another Emmy this weekend for his anti-semitic racism and rapejoke cartoon.)

  34. The thing is CJ social media outrage is the modern equivalent of that very notion. You would think as a society we’d be well past that (no matter where you stand) but all we do is continue to add fuel to a fire that should just be allowed to fan out. That is problematic and unhealthy in the long run.

    Now I WILL defend Chappelle because in that same special he also went to bat for that same group Majestyk brought up because they are marginalized even by their own allies and it’s a double standard a lot of people avoid pointing out. He made it his business to also point that out as well. Quite eloquently IMO now if it went over heads that’s a different story but it IS there.

    Frankly what I did respect was that he went after everybody. Including himself. It’s not like he just spent 45 min singing the same ol song. Matter of fact 2 of the things that resonated most with me were the opiod crisis bit which as someone who grew up in crack infested NYC hoods in the late 80s and early 90s it felt good to see someone put the ignorant condescension of JUST SAY NO! in it’s place but also the opening.

    Where he alludes that for those of us who have grown up with nothing but obstacles in our way facing them head on is as normal as breathing where as the slightest obstacle would throw someone of more privilige off center like a breeze in the wind. That shit is real. That’s what comedy is supposed to do. Speak that truth to power as straightforward as possible.

    I could see how this special rubbed people the wrong way which is why I get where Mr. M came from but I also feel it’s been really misconstrued and blown out of proportion. I have a trans sister in law. I saw her emotionally moved by his story about the trans member of his audience during the epilogue because of how humane it was. I don’t think somebody capable of that type of interaction is truly out to gut any particular group especially one that any rational human beings would go to bat for when people are truly being unjust to them. He took on a lot of “easy targets” when I think about it. It didn’t make anything that he had to say any less resonant at least to me. Matter of fact it helped drive the real points home.

  35. I know you weren’t, CJ. And you’re right: There was actual censorship of comedy in the past, but now all these edgelords have to complain about is basic consumer dissatisfaction. It’s no different than what happened to Bob Hope and the vaudevillians before him: Tastes changed and their old schtick just didn’t play anymore. In this day and age when it’s easier to hear and sympathize with different points of view, lots of people no longer laugh at the kind of punching-down Chapelle has chosen to traffic in. His response is not to generate better material, but to berate the audience for not laughing (a tactic used by racist uncles and overbearing supervisors since the dawn of time) and then decry the death of comedy. It’s not HIS fault, you see. It’s all of US. I’m sure the young Chapelle would have had nothing but scorn for any veteran comedian who bitched about “these darn kids today” not laughing at his corny old Catskills “Take my wife…please” material, but now apparently Chapelle thinks laughs are his divine right and if they don’t come, it’s a grave injustice.

    But then again, plenty of people do find this kind of thing funny. He’s still playing to sold-out crowds, and his fans will defend his every word as if it is holy scripture. So he has even less of a leg to stand on in his crusade against PC culture. There’s no world where Dave Chapelle is the underdog here. All he’s really complaining about is “Not everyone likes my jokes.” Cry me a fuckin’ river, pal.

  36. Oh and fuck Family Guy but I would never equate Seth with Chappelle anyway. One points out hard truths to get your gears turning. The other is just mean spirited for the sake of being mean. There is room for both but as a comedy enthusiast I know which one I prefer l.

  37. Broddie: I didn’t see your comment before I typed mine so that wasn’t a response to yours. Truth be told, I have not seen the special, nor do I intend to. Not because I’m offended, but because I lost my taste for stand-up somewhere around when Carlin died. Honestly, all these comics just feel like desperately insecure and bitter Internet commenters who fucking NEED you to hear all of their amazing opinions or they’re gonna fuckin’ explode. They rub me the wrong way. The whole medium feels toxic to me right now.

  38. I feel you on that Majestyk. I love comedy as much as I love film, music and hip hop culture. So it does pain me that I could count the number of specials I’ve seen from new jacks in the past decade on one hand and not even all fingers. However I think the reason I liked this special so much (didn’t really think much of his last 2) is because it was the most Carlin-esque. Nobody will ever replicate the genius of Uncle George. Nobody. He’s the GOAT and I say this as a melanated man who loved Pryor to bits but never thought he could ever trult see the irish man. But to see someone just go out there and unapologetic speak their mind as opposed to try to pander like most modern comedians. That’s as Carlin as it gets. I actually hope this is the kinda shit that finally gets Eddie off his ass and back on stage.

  39. Back to Cobra Kai I just saw Macchio mention a return to okinawa in some interview. Tamlyn Tomita and Chozen fans GET HYPE!!!

  40. I wasn’t mad at Chappelle for his choice of topics, per se– it’s kinda mean, but sometimes good comedy is kind of mean. What I can’t dig on is just how fucking lame his anti-LGBTQ material is. Like 20 minutes of cringey whining about how mean they are to him and then his “car metaphor” and what are we left with? Just the most tired stereotypes imaginable. Haha, gay are more fashionable than lesbians! Classic stuff. And I mean classic in the sense that they were making that exact joke in, like, 1962.

    I don’t think there’s any topic which should be entirely off-limits to a comic, but that section of his special is a good argument for sticking to topics you actually know something about. For a real simple reason: it’s boring. He doesn’t really know anything about LGBTQ people (except he’s mad at them for criticizing him), so he doesn’t really have anything interesting to say about LGBTQ people. It’s just such a dull, dated, empty premise that even someone with Chappelle’s godlike talent as a performer can’t squeeze much juice out of that lemon. What if trans people were trans-racial? Seriously? Congratulations on being the 950,000 person to make that joke since Rachel Dolezal happened. And his Michael Jackson apology stuff? It’s basically an exact repeat of the R Kelly material he was doing years ago when he thought R Kelly was innocent, too. It was kinda funny back then, but Dave, surely you’ve got some fresher takes than that?

    I’m starting to think doing 5 specials in two years might be a little much even for him. I actually though his edgy stuff in AGE OF SPIN was thoughtful and provocative and worthwhile, but STICKS AND STONES is just so damn lame. I can defend controversial, but I can’t defend lazy.

  41. He did drag that metaphor on for too long. I actually groaned when the Q part came. But the trans racial bit kept me going cause it led to one of the funniest things I heard him ever say. His wife hates the joke cause she’s asian but its not like he does that face at home; except when they fight. That shit was so random I laughed for like 2 minutes. Bill Burr’s new special also had a pretty good bit on arguing with your spouse. It’s interesting to see these guys are now at the stage in their life where they can validly make “my wife…” jokes.

  42. The Season 2 Finale is free now on Youtube. No spoilers, but I saw it last night and can’t stop thinking about it. Now I know what people who watched Game of Thrones and shit went through because I can’t shut the fuck up about it and I’m actively angry I have to wait until next season. This season is a master class of storytelling, but also in the finale it turns out to be a master class in film-making (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it).

    On another spoiler-free note: I managed to watch the entire season without knowing that new character Tori was played by Peyton List (a Miley Cyrus/Zendaya-esque ex-Disney star). Like she is literally on another show I’m watching right now at the same time (the horror series Light as a Feather on Hulu) and I had zero idea it was the same actress. She’s off the chain and Tori is probably in my Top 5 Karate Kid Universe characters.

  43. Neal2Zod; I watched it last night too and good lord do I agree.

  44. Now you understand why I say the Cobra Kai season finale is my Infinity War.

  45. Holy shit, you guys weren’t joking. That’s, what, at least five times as much fighting in that episode as in the whole movie series? That episode was intense, and it leaves so many questions about what happens next. Damn, did Youtube trick me into paying when the new season comes on?

  46. Like, I’m not worried that SPOILER is dead. I’m sure he’ll be in season 3 but I am worried about how injured he could be. He may never walk again, let alone fight. This is a show where that’s possible and that’s great fucking drama.

    Plus it all came about because Johnny actually taught him the right thing and he followed it. But kids are emotional and still react and things can escalate dangerously.

  47. Vern – I THINK I heard next season will still be free but Youtube is going to have commercial breaks. Small price to pay and even if they’re still doing the subscription-based model I’ll gladly pay for it. (Speaking of commercials, weren’t there a couple of episodes with weird product placement cut into the show? Like suddenly there was a banner for Enterprise Car Rental inside La Russo Motors that was totally distracting? I hope they don’t do that but they can do whatever they want.)


    Fred – Yes, this absolutely is a bigger cliffhanger than Infinity War since in that one, you knew everything would be reversed (like, you LITERALLY KNEW Spider-Man and Black Panther were coming back). In this one, I can totally see the showrunners keeping that character in a wheelchair the rest of the show, not because it’s cruel, but because it’s thematically appropriate and the show is incredibly inclusive and wouldn’t treat a disability like a death sentence. But I do hope he recovers!

    I think the genius of Season 2 is they say right off the bat this is happening right after the Season 1 tournament so you know Episode 10 won’t take place a whole year later and climax there. I spent the entire season thinking “wait I don’t get what they’re building up to”. Even the way the finale begins with a new school year beginning, it feels like a season premiere, not a finale, and I was seriously questioning “wait are there more than 10 episdoes this season”? The answer was right there in front of me with the multiple rivalries it set up, but I still didn’t see the rumble coming. (In a way it’s a neat homage to The Outsiders AND Karate Kid Part II also ending in a street fight – the Tori/Sam fight even climaxes with an identically shot homage/reversal of the nose-honking moment!!!)

    And when the rumble finally did happen – who knew it would be literally 10 minutes long and include an intricately choreographed long unbroken take? It suddenly turned into John Wick but I never once felt the show was selling out or betraying its roots (the fights sprinkled throughout the season (like the forest episode) were definitely getting more heightened and over-the-top, which prepared you for the finale). And speaking of which, I love that during the fight, a Miyagi-Do student cheated and hit a Cobra Kai student with a book to the face, and they played it off like a cheer moment. And you cheer because the Cobra Kai kid is an asshole but then you think to yourself (“hmm…I don’t really know if I liked that or not”). Who knew that in like two minutes another likable Miyagi-Do student will do the ultimate fight-dirty moment and you realize “Oh shit, this incredibly fun and emotionally cathartic fight isn’t awesome. (Even though it is). It’s fucking tragic and somewhere Mr. Miyagi is watching this as a single tear rolls down his face”. I’m confident this will be one of those episodes burned into pop-culture memory like certain episodes of Breaking Bad, Lost, Sopranos, Game of Thrones, etc…

  48. I remember an episode saying it contained product placement, but I think I missed it. I wondered at the time if Coors had started paying them.

  49. There’s some obvious Sony placement here and there, but none of it is too obvious.

    I just finished the 1st season and was very impressed. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the movies with the slightest interest since I was a little kid, but it impressed me on a deeper level of how it shows how the characters matured and moved on with their lives. At least it seems that way at first. It’s really what got me hooked into the last season of TWIN PEAKS, despite not having watched all of the original show or FIRE WALK WITH ME until literally the last minute.

    YouTube made a good choice having this be their marquee show, or at least that is the impression I am getting. I’m surprised that it’s been this long since they started to do original scripted content on this level. Granted, it’s clearly not budgeted at the level Netflix or HBO does, but it really doesn’t looks as cheap as it probably is compared to the shows on those platforms. So big up to their production team for making it look (and sound! I love the music when it goes into Miyagi territory. I don’t know if it’s rehashed from Conti’s score but it sounds new to these ears) great.

  50. This show is just absurdly enjoyable. I am fully ready to pay youtube for season 3 so if they show it free with ads, I will be very happy. And the last 2 months I’ve actually enjoyed having to anxiously wait each week to watch the next episode (probably moreso than any show since Breaking Bad).

    The high school brawl was amazing but I was even more hyped for the La Russo – Lawrence rematch!

    I think my favourite moment of the whole series was when they got seated next to each other at the Mexican restaurant:

    Waitress: “Do you know each other?”
    Mrs La Russo: “They have warring karate dojos.”

    Hahahahaha – I love this show.

  51. COBRA KAI | The Karate Kid Legacy Continues | Netflix

    Two dojos. One epic rivalry. The Cobra Kai legacy continues only on Netflix. Seasons 1 and 2 strike back August 28th. Season 3 enters the tournament in 2021....

  52. Yeah, I’m so glad to hear that. Finally I can watch that show! Fingers crossed that BODIED will also be available for me to watch at some point.

  53. grimgrinningchris

    September 4th, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Assuming that everyone with any interest has had the chance to watch this now?
    I binged it through the week and my mind is still reeling.

  54. I finally watched the first two seasons. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Paul Walter Hauser showed up and took the show to the next level.

  55. Just finished the first two seasons and holy shit, the show IS as great as they say!

    Okay, I had some problems with season 2. Too much focus on Miyagi Do in my opinion, which often made Johnny and Miguel into guest stars in their own show, WAY too much focus on “will they, won’t they” teen soap bullshit, an overuse of “friendships break up because at least one side won’t listen and jumps to conclusions” plot devices or the reduction of Daniel’s wife to the sitcom cliche of “Smart wife who keeps telling her dumb husband that he has to stop acting like a boy”, which sadly sometimes robbed their rivalry of the “These are two adults who still suffer from mental scars of their childhood” depth and turned it into “Haha, midlife crisis, how silly!” at times.

    That said, somehow this show managed to be the most entertaining, yes most emotionally devastating thing “on TV” these days. The lows were annoying, but no real dealbreakers, but the highs were absolutely brillant. Mostly in the character department, but just when I thought I was getting bored of long one take fight scenes, we get the brawl in the S2 finale!

    And I have to give them that: As much as the “Oh no, they were just getting along and now they hate each other because of a stupid misunderstanding” thing became the shows go-to move whenever they needed to add some drama, it was always believable and understandable when that happened, which made it actually work.

    Seriously, who would’ve guessed back in 1984, that this cheap teen movie would lead to one of the greatest examples of modern, serialized storytelling?

  56. You guys, no spoilers, but season 3 is as good as season 1 again, although I’m still not sure if I am on board with the show’s newfound straight faced ridiculousness of “We should call the cops, but instead we Karate it out”. I didn’t mean to burn through the thing so fast, but I really needed to know what happens next.

  57. I’m now halfway through Season 3. I was a little worried at the start that it was going to go down the road I assume that SAVED BY THE BELL rebootquel goes down (which I haven’t seen and likely won’t watch, but have been told enough about to believe it is exactly the show I assume it is, including that as many as 4 of the 10 episodes have gags about the caffeine pills episode!), but thankfully they get that video essay-level snark bait out of their system pretty quick, and I was and continue to be all in. There are a couple of things about Daniel’s story that strain credibility in a way that’s too mundane to play into the fun of the show, but not enough to earn any serious demerits.

  58. Given that a lot of cinematic landfill is either filled with bad TV Shows spun off of great movies or bad movies spun off of great TV shows, Cobra Kai shouldn’t have worked, but by God it does!

    Cobra Kai is proof of what can be achieved with good writing, turning what could have been a lame premise (2 middle aged men re-igniting a 3 decade old high school feud) into compulsive viewing.

    Credit William Zabka and Ralph Macchio for revisiting their famous roles and adding depth and complexities to them.

    The main thing going for this series is in it’s absolute refusal to box it’s 2 central characters into Good or Bad categorizations.

    While Johnny is still a bit of a dick, the quintessential jock who peaked early and now sees the best part of his life and potential behind him, he’s also a broken man, beset with loss, grief and regrets, looking for a stab at redemption by opening his karate dojo.

    Daniel is a successful businessman, with a beautiful wife and 2 kids but still can’t let go of his resentment of Johnny and everything Cobra Kai stands for (his inability to let go is also illustrated by the fact that in spite of being a happily married man, he still pines for and occasionally stalks his high school ex Ali on FB)

    And I just loved the series’ expansion on one of Miyagi’s philosophies from the 1st movie: “There are no bad students, merely bad teachers”

    In S1, a group of bullied and passive nerds slowly morph into aggressors under Johnny’s “tough love, no mercy” approach (My fav line is when Johnny asks one of them if he’s autistic, to which the nerd replies, “the doctor says I may be on the spectrum”. Johnny’s response, “Well, get off it”) while Johnny’s wayward and delinquent son is slowly nudged into a more compassionate and humane person under Daniel’s tutelage which draws heavily on Miyagi’s gentle and pacifist approach to karate.

    Cobra Kai rides on a gigantic nostalgia wave so I’m not sure how much of a pull it’ll be for those who don’t regard The Karate Kid as one of their seminal viewing experiences. My love for movies blossomed in the 80s, so The Karate Kid, along with The Goonies, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Terminator, Rambo First Blood Part 2, ET, Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee are titles I rented on VHS repeatedly and wore out through sheer overplay.

    So Cobra Kai’s premise and the generous sprinkling of Easter Eggs & guest appearances (Ali! Kumiko! Chozen!) is just the cherry on top of a sweet sweet cake for me.

    Ironically, the more soap operatic Cobra Kai gets, specifically in Seasons 2 & 3, the better it becomes, because like the best soaps, it keeps you in a near constant state of whiplash with it’s frequently shifting allegiances and plot twists.

    And my opinion, formed in the 80s, that John Kreese is one terrifying villain remains unchanged. And Kove, his face now weathered and solidified into granite seems even scarier now.

    Bring on S4!

  59. I don’t think you guys appreciate the kindness I’m showing you all by not watching and thus hating this show you love so much. You’re really playing with fire here by bringing it up so often and lavishing it with such praise. I might eventually be tempted to check it out, at which point I will be powerless to prevent the carnage that will follow.

    So tread carefully. You got a nice little COBRA KAI fan club going on here. Be a shame if something bad happened to it.

  60. I’m more worried about you than the club. When even I, one of the biggest nostalgiaturbation haters out there, can be charmed by KC’s constant referencing, clip-showing and guest-appearancing and acknowledge that these bastards actually found a way to use it as a logical and well done storytelling device, instead of cheap “Hey, you like that shit, right? Here is more of it, now upvote us on Reddit!”, I have no idea what it would say about you if you decide to go full Mr Majestyk on it.

  61. That’s why I’m not watching it. I am choosing to spare all of us—myself included—that negativity.

    I mean, the word “hero” gets tossed around a lot…

  62. It’s ok Maj….somewhere in the “Banshee” discussions I realized nothing curdles your milk of human kindness faster than TV shows hehehehe……

  63. Honestly I wouldn’t give a hoot if you watched it and hated it because it’s an opinion and they’re just as valid as mine or KayKay’s or anybody elses here. God bless.

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