"Dimming the Lights"
What You Need To Know:
The final three episodes of A SHOW ABOUT ANTHEM LIGHTS feature above-average animation, sharp scripts and original song clips. However, they have unflattering portrayals of Christian leaders in the church and in the Christian music industry. Despite this, the episodes are railing against hypocritical people in high places. They call for sincerity, authenticity and values rather than greed and selfishness. MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution for Episodes 118 through 119 of A SHOW ABOUT ANTHEM LIGHTS. Viewers will need to be savvy about the one-sided portrayals in these three episodes.
The final three episodes of A SHOW ABOUT ANTHEM LIGHTS, an animated comedy series on Pire Flix, chart a different course. What started out as a fun set of episodes that humorously yet positively poked and probed the foibles of the Anthem Lights band members ends the season with its final episodes taking skeptical pot shots at the Christian music industry and contemporary church pastors. What started with promising musings about themselves, always resolving the hitches and celebrating the victories, unfortunately closes with airing misgivings about organized Christianity that are left unresolved. Worse, Anthem Lights breaks up as a band on the show, which leaves viewers with unresolved misgivings about the series in general.
An invitation to perform on an ocean liner package is the story for Episode 118, “Music Cruise.” The negative attitude toward such an endeavor is revealed early on when the Christian cruise promoter’s name turns out to be Mickey Moneybags. There are some laughs as the Anthem Lights band members take themselves a bit too seriously, such as overdressing for the floating pool party. Real treats in this episode are nods to fellow Christian artists that Anthem Lights have toured with in real time. For example, Bart Millard of MercyMe is on the cruise as host to the music performances. Also, one of the bands performing is named “Jugs of Mud,” a tip of the cap to real life Christian artists “Jars of Clay.” For Anthem Lights, sadly, the cruise delivers a sinking feeling.
Episode 119, “Sunday Drive,” opens at a Sunday morning worship service attended by the Anthem Lights band members. The foible of one of the band members causes some humorous trouble for this fab four as the car is left running to keep the air conditioning pumping for their return. However, the real trouble in the script’s development is the picture painted of the lead pastor of the church. When the Anthem Lights lads ask a favor, the lead pastor shrugs his shoulders and says, “That’s not my department.” It is the department of the associate pastor, but the lead pastor “forgot his name” and instructs them to “ask what’s-her-name,” his secretary. Making their way to the office door, the bandmates turn to thank the lead pastor for his time, and they can see and hear that he’s already on his mobile phone talking to a gym buddy about the next workout for his ripped body. This unflattering portrait of their lead pastor is never addressed in this episode and is only made worse in the next and last episode.
In order to resolve increasingly tense disagreements that the Anthem Lights band members are having with each other, Episode 120, “The Breakup,” finds them turning to a counseling appointment with their lead pastor. Ushered into his office, he’s once again on the phone with his gym workout buddy, and he doesn’t end the call anytime soon. Once he does focus on the band, he tells them he has 15 minutes before he has to deliver a keynote address across town. Each Anthem Lights member then gives a brief example of the turmoil they are experiencing. The pastor advises, “You’ve heard the phrase ‘Forgive and forget’? What’s better? Just forget! Then you don’t have to worry about the ‘forgive’ part. I’m out of here; I’ll send you an invoice.”
Back at the studio, the band’s “Social Media Publicist” encourages more adversity as “great content.” Anthem Lights breaks up, and all the publicist can say is, “You’ll still need a Social Media Publicist, right? I’ll just bill you all separately now!” End scene, episode and Season One.
The entertainment value of A SHOW ABOUT ANTHEM LIGHTS is sustained in the final three episodes of Season One. The episodes have sharp scripts that deliver well-tailored stories and original song clips, all in under 15 minutes. The animation is definitely above average, and the character voicing is spot on. However, what began as a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating look at themselves, ups and downs and victorious rounds of the creative process included, now ends as a doubt-creating, character-bashing posturing aimed at Christian churches, pastors and the participants in the business part of the Christian music field, with implied negative implications for contemporary Christian faith.
In an unusual way, however, the final three episodes still have a strong Christian, moral worldview. As unflattering as their depictions of people in leadership of Christian churches or the Christian music business might be, the episodes are railing against hypocritical people in high places. They also call for sincerity, authenticity and values other than greed and selfishness. Nonetheless, caution is advised for viewers, who will need to be savvy about the one-sided portrayals in these three episodes.
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