YMMV: Mark Does Stuff

  • Applicability: Everything seems to map to class struggle and/or Mark's personal experiences.
    • "Angel wanted to escape his horrific past, so why shouldn't he get to decide how to portray himself to others? It reminded me of my first year of college."
  • Big Name Fan: The site was brought to Neil Gaiman's attention while Mark was reviewing American Gods, and Gaiman read through a few pages and loved them.
    • To quote Mr. Gaiman, "I enjoyed your American Gods read so much. It was like getting to look through a reader's eyes & find out what worked."
    • And then he warned Mark on Twitter that he didn't think The Sandman really got good until volume 2.
    • J. August Richards Tweeted that of course Gunn would marry him.
    • Seanan McGuire alerted her Twitter followers in record time when he started reading Newsflesh.
      • And at the same time, Tamora Pierce was alerted that he was starting the Tortall Universe and quickly wrote back. She later said that Mark's reviews made her re-love the series in a way she hadn't for years, and sincerely thanked him for them. She's now a regular commenter on the site, under the name "Scrivener212."
    • NK Jemison managed to find him and become a fan before he even started reviewing her own work.
    • Diane Duane is another who started posting before he got to her work (though he'd already announced he would be doing it). She even offered a special discount on Young Wizards to members of the community who didn't yet own copies.
  • Broken Base / Hypocritical Humor: Some of Mark's discussions about social justice can cause heated debates in the comments of the posts. These tend to come down to violent differences of opinion between pro- and anti-social justice warriors, with the former defending Mark and latter attacking him.
    • On the Spoils site, a discussion about Beverly Katz being Stuffed into the Fridge on Hannibal went south, creating a very ugly meltdown that resulted in several people getting banned, including moderators, and more deciding to leave on their own rather than risk it happening again. And now the show is more or less considered off limits for discussion. It's essentially the Joel vs. Mike flamewar in miniature.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: He gushes his adoration for Admiral Cain from Battlestar Galactica to a kind of disturbing degree.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The commenter "enigmaticagentscully," actually a British woman named Alice, got a sizable fanbase of her own while writing her own thoughts on viewing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel for the first time. Mark got several questions asked about her, and some even suspected they were the same person.
  • Growing the Beard: Noted about Farscape, where he says it feels like the show just needed to get "Jeremiah Crichton" (nigh-universally considered its worst episode) out of its system before it was able to leave its early issues behind and become a truly great show.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: While reviewing the Buffy episode "Blood Ties," he says that even as depressing as the show is at that point, at least Joyce was still alive. He quickly posted in the comments that he'd already seen "The Body," and rereading the review before posting it made him cry all over again.
    • It quickly happened again as during his review of "Spiral," he said the only thing he was sure of about the season finale was that Buffy wouldn't die.
    • His guessing that Woody Goodman is gay while watching Veronica Mars.
      • Quickly followed by "Everything is tainted in this episode, except maybe Mac and Cassidy."
      • Early in season 3 he did a rant about people who make light of rape in any way, to which anyone who'd seen the show thought "This is going to be ugly."
    • Praising John Spencer's performance in season 6 of The West Wing and saying he really looks like he had a heart attack, unaware that not only was this development inspired by Spencer's real heart problems forcing him to take a smaller role, but he would suffer a fatal heart attack a year later.
      • And then he says that he feels like he's going to have a heart attack after the "three years later" opening of the season 7 premiere, just seconds before Spencer's credit appears.
    • After finishing season 1 of Hannibal, he hopes Beverly Katz gets more development in season 2. This is doubly painful not just for what happened to her, but how it tore apart his own fanbase (see Broken Base above).
    • While watching episode 11 of Revolutionary Girl Utena, he notes that he had to get the episode with a bunch of "caged bird" imagery on the day that Maya Angelou died.
    • He says of Furlow in the Farscape episode "Daedalus Demands," " My god, she’s so endlessly entertaining and hilarious, she’s proudly morally ambiguous, and I could watch her sass everyone until the end of time," "She’s managed to survive in such a fierce and brutal world without being all that brutal herself," and " Sure, her own survival is important, but at what cost? At what point does morally detached pragmatism become a horrible thing?" Then came the next episode...
    • He retweeted Levar Burton's stunningly poignant quoting of To Kill a Mockingbird in response to the horrific miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, just a few months before starting Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • Leonard Nimoy passed away less than a month after he watched Spock's death in The Wrath of Khan.
      • And a couple weeks later Terry Pratchett passed, while he was still doing both Star Trek and Discworld.
    • While watching Supernatural, he was disappointed that Metatron was played by a white actor after all the buildup about him being Native American. Given what kind of person he turns out to actually be, and his motivation of revenge on the Archangels for throwing him out of Heaven, casting him as Native American probably would have had far more Unfortunate Implications.
  • Heartwarming In Hindsight: In the final episode of Star Trek, he sadly notes that this will be the last time he sees Nurse Chapel, which is technically correct. Doctor Chapel, on the other hand...
    • In Season 8 of Supernatural he began getting very critical about the show queerbaiting with Dean and Benny, and wished he could see a show whose writing crew didn't chicken out like this. Shortly before, he'd announced he would soon be watching a show where that's just what happened: The Legend of Korra.
    • The first piece of Discworld he read after Terry Pratchett's death was the section of Eric about how the universe is cyclical and endings are just new beginnings.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Many of the comments Mark's make during his reviews will be quite amusing to him upon later viewing, due to it inadvertently predicting or being ironic about something which will happen in the future of said book/show. Of course, to readers who know the work, it's funny in the present.
    • From his first reading of Harry Potter, his early comments in Philosopher's Stone about spiders and his readers' amusement about them became clear with the reveal of Aragog in the next book.
    • Also during Harry Potter, Mark frequently requested that certain characters he disliked "DIE IN ALL THE FIRES". This was quite funny in light of Crabbe's eventual fate.
    • In The Hunger Games review, Mark wonders whether Suzanne Collins will be able to kill off a character, especially children; he then read her kill off about half of her cast of characters in a single chapter.
    • Another common wish for particularly vile characters is that the earth would open up and swallow them. This paid off with the fates of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter in His Dark Materials.
    • From his review of the last chapter of The Hobbit: "Would you let me walk into a volcano if you knew a certain path led straight into it?" Even better, the review is actually a Real Person Fic of Tolkien reading the book to his son Christopher, so you can easily read it as how he got a certain idea.
      • Plus, Tolkien insisting there are no ghosts in Middle Earth.
    • From his review of The Lord of the Rings Book II chapter 8 — and note that Mark read the books before watching the LotR films —
      Actually...okay, I'm trying to think of a good example and I'm coming up empty, but have you ever seen a movie that "ended" like fifteen times?
    • From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the time he wrote an entire paragraph all about how Willow was straight but he still wanted to be big gay friends with her. For bonus irony, this all happened one episode before Tara was introduced.
      ...I refuse to be judged for projecting my big ol' gay life all over you Willow. I don't even care that you're straight, you are my big ol' gay best friend and this is all I want from you...
      • "Hush" was the one episode whose title had been spoiled for him as one of the most popular episodes, so he posted the notes he took while watching it, preceded by an introduction written before he saw it, where he worried that there wouldn't be any interesting dialogue to make the approach worthwhile. One of those notes is "WHY DID I SAY THAT? I REGRET EVERYTHING I'VE EVER DONE."
      • In his review of "Conversations with Dead People" he told Andrew to give up, as the Scoobies would never let him join them.
    • The epic Wendy Davis filibuster took place shortly before he reached "The Stackhouse Filibuster" in The West Wing.
      • And then the government shuts down shortly before he got to that happening in the show.
      • "SANTOS FOR PRESIDENT, PLEASE."
    • One that skirts the border between this and Harsher: One of his first comments about Alex Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist was to note how he seemed to be an exaggerated version of Mark himself. And from all we've heard, the relationship between Mark and his sister is rather similar to Alex and Olivier's.
      • Noted himself in his previous remarks about Selim in Fullmetal Alchemist that were wildly off course.
      • And then he hopes Kimblee is eaten and doesn't come back. Yeah, about that...
    • While watching the Veronica Mars episode "You Think You Know Somebody", he notes that he's regretting saying so much nice stuff about Troy
      • His very first comment about Aaron Echolls: "Much nicer than his son."
      • He wrote that nothing could possibly make him like Lamb, just one episode before the one good, decent thing that Lamb does in the whole show.
      • Upon Woody Goodman's first appearance in the season 2 finale, he shouts "Blow up!"
    • The very first thing he wrote about The Westing Game: "I feel like this is an elaborate prank."
      • Shortly after he started the book, "America the Beautiful" came back into popular consciousness thanks to Coca-Cola's Super Bowl ad.
      • And he read this book about a bunch of people snowbound in a hotel in the middle of one of the snowiest winters in recorded history.
    • While reading The Light Fantastic he comes quite close to calling the Librarian a monkey, then does a Last-Second Word Swap to "orangutan." Fans of the series know this is exactly what a typical in-universe character would do.
      • Every time he wishes for Death to show up again, not having caught on yet that he appears in almost every book in the series.
      • He says of dwarfs during Wyrd Sisters " it seems like Pratchett isn’t doing much at all to explain why it’s bullshit that these characters stick so rigidly to gender norms."
      • On Dios from Pyramids: "Is he 70, 80? He seems a little older."
      • He runs into a bit of trouble with the title of "Guards! Guards!" in the video, having to specify that the title isn't literally "Guards Guards with Exclamation Points." This is the book that introduces Carrot, who has the exact same problem.
      • Halfway through "Guards! Guards!" he wonders if the Watch is ever going to get more people.
      • Around the time he finished "Guards! Guards!", a chapter from Circle of Magic got him to talk about how he was only able to buy his first pair of boots that very year, instantly bringing to mind the Samuel Vimes Boots Theory of Societal Unfairness.
      • Upon meeting Astfgl in Eric, he's immediately reminded of Crowley from Supernatural. The end of the book reveals that he's made Hell boring, just like Crowley's "standing in line" idea.
    • Early in the first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, he predicts there's a ton of slash fic about it. This from the show whose fans invented the term.
      • About Gary Mitchell: "He looks kind of like Karl Urban, doesn't he?"
      • From the same episode: "Is there coffee on the Enterprise?"
      • In "Return of the Archons" he theorizes that the only way to actually insult Spock would be to call him human.
      • His incredulous reaction to Harlan Ellison's writing credit on "The City on the Edge of Forever." Ellison himself would agree.
      • During that scene from "The Trouble with Tribbles," "Is someone back there chucking them at him?"
      • In "The Ultimate Computer," he wants to see something with dinosaurs.
      • In "Bread and Circuses," "You know what I'd like to see? The Academy."
      • When a mysterious figure transports aboard in "Assignment: Earth," "It's Abraham Lincoln!"
      • Just a couple weeks before starting The Next Generation, he watched the Leverage episode "The Juror #6 Job" and noted that Brent Spiner looked strangely familiar.
    • He watched the Supernatural episode "The End," set five years in the future at the time it was made, just one month before that setting.
      • Early in the video for "Sacrifice," he notes that it's raining and says "That's my sadness falling from the sky."
    • The last Farscape episode he watched before a five week break for a tour was "Look at the Princess Part 2," of which he says he's glad he won't be leaving it on a cliffhanger. This story is actually the first instance of the show's fondness for three parters.
      • During the "Liars, Guns, and Money" trilogy he said he loves heist series, and would adore a show that was nothing but heists. A couple days later, he announced he would soon be watching Leverage.
      • Though the post didn't go up until the following week, he watched "Kansas" just two days before Halloween.
    • Given his famous hatred of spoilers, it's quite fun to see him watching one be used as a major plot point in In The Flesh.
    • In Fifty Shades of Grey he gushes a bit over how attractive Jose sounds, a couple chapters before realizing he was Jacob in the original Twilight fic the book is based on.
    • He watched the Leverage episode "The Ho Ho Ho Job," in which Parker is depressed over having a snowless Christmas, during a particularly cold and snowy winter. The video has quite a few comments about how everyone in Boston was currently the exact opposite of her.
  • Ho Yay: It naturally comes up a lot, but reached particularly epic levels in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood with the meeting of the Armstrongs and Curtises. He declared Alex and Sig's flex-off "the gayest thing I've ever seen."
  • Memetic Mutation: ROSE LOVED DRUGS.
    • I THINK HE'S FEELING JUST A LITTLE BIT DOWN.
    • Did you know Zhao was voiced by Jason Issacs? Because he also played Lucius Malfoy!
    • He decided to write about The Princess Bride as if the metafictional S. Morgenstern story was actually true. Inevitably, some people didn't get the joke, resulting in every single chapter getting comments telling him that it wasn't real.
    • During The Sandman, his inexplicable (even to himself) habit of calling the Endless "the Eternals."
    • After branching into video games, he quickly picked up a new one with his references to GLaDOS as "they."
    • Did you know Song of the Lioness feels so rushed because Tamora Pierce had to conform to maximum page limits of the time?
    • Calling rear attacks in Dragon Age "butt stabbing."
    • "I am not a villain created by Disney." Originally said by someone who got into an argument with Mark before being banned, and constantly parodied thereafter. From October 24 to Halloween, Mark and several long-term commenters changed their icons and usernames to those of Disney villains. Mark's was "Killer of Bambi's Mom" and had no picture.
    • "Jet is a cop?" Referring to how he managed to miss and/or forget the several references to this in Cowboy Bebop until Jet's past was explicitly part of the story.
    • Mixing up "buffet" (a self-served meal, where the "t" is silent) and "buffet" (to hit something, where it's not).
    • His complete inability to remember if the word "fief" is pronounced "feef" or "fife" (it's the first one).
    • The proposed alternate title for Supernatural: "Misty-Eyed Boy Talk."
    • Commenter Psyched180 popularized the nickname "Toast" for Duncan Kane, referring to how bland he is.
    • His incredulous reaction to a major character death in the season 2 finale of Supernatural: "He's on other boxes!" (referring to the DVD covers)
  • Narm Charm: He naturally finds a ton of it in Star Trek: The Original Series. Perhaps best exemplified by his reaction to the hand puppet plant in the very first episode: "That's so obviously a hand, I love it!"
    • It's out in full force during The Terminator, where he revels in the film's various bits of '80s cheese.
  • Nausea Fuel: Before watching the Hannibal episode "Tome-wan," he notes that he was warned not to eat anything before watching it. And he does indeed gag a bit during the scene in question.
  • Never Live It Down: He managed to completely avoid meeting Leliana in his first time playing Dragon Age: Origins. Many commenters now love to bring up how awesome she is just to taunt him.
    • Mentioned himself while reading Deep Secret, where he mispronounces "rags" as...a certain word that rhymes with it.
    • Also noted while asking about Christian Grey "Does he collect sex people?"
    • Taking the Big Bad's attempt to foist suspicion onto Vetinari completely at face value in "Guards! Guards!", after passing the big clue that he was lying. This resulted in a quite serious discussion about how the fans could let him know if he still hadn't caught on by the end of the book so he wouldn't spend the rest of the series viewing Vetinari as a Karma Houdini. Luckily, he did.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Mark uses Katpee for Katniss/Peeta. The alternative was Peeniss.
    • The Princess Tutu reviews brought out the Ahiru/Fakir shippers in force. You'd expect that they'd call themselves Team Fakiru, but thanks to the fact that Ahiru is called "Duck" (a literal translation of her name) in the dub, they called themselves Team Fuck instead.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Mark hates this trope. Really, really hates it. He loves to deconstruct it.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Some Supernatural fans have taken serious issue with his regularly siding with Sam over Dean whenever they're at odds, including saying Dean was wrong to beat Sam up after Sam let him get turned into a vampire. And then there's the time he called Dean the most likely to shoot someone, in a group that includes a guy who willingly fed his grandchildren to ghouls. And his completely letting Sam off the hook for not trying at all to save Dean and Kevin between seasons 7 and 8, and calling Dean a hypocrite for also leaving the life between seasons 5 and 6 in a completely different situation. For that last one he even argued in the comments with a few people over their interpretation, something that usually only happens when someone is being racist, sexist, or such.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: He notes several times in Star Trek that he's having a hard time figuring out if a plot point that seems cliché now was actually being pioneered by the show.
    • His exasperated "Are you serious?" at the use of "Bad to the Bone" in Terminator 2, not realizing this is actually the scene that popularized the song.
  • So Bad, It's Good: His opinion of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "I Robot, You Jane": This is not the worst episode of Buffy. It's so awful that it loops around to becoming an abstract art piece about the archaic nature of human interaction. It's so awful that it's as if the people made it specifically to appear on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's so awful that...well, it's a waste of time and energy to spend one second hating it.
    • His opinion about The Room. Its especially good if you're surrounded by thirty drunk friends while watching it.
  • Spoil At Your Own Risk: Mark's spoiler rules are very simple; if he's going to review it, and hasn't seen it yet, do not mention it. His fury shall be hard and swift.
    • Look at the number of comments on the Mockingjay chapters: They go down and down and down (or just say 'Can't talk or spoilers will fall out')... until the last two chapters, when people can finally talk about what happened.
    • This led to a new meme around the Mark Watches Avatar posts: THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN MARK SING SE
    • Mark calls River Song his soulmate because of their similar attitudes toward spoilers.
    • It's now become general practice to write spoilery comments in rot13, as it's easy to just paste them into rot13.com and do it again if you want to read them.
    • There's also a Spoil Blog which acts as a "Place To Contain Yourself" if you want to discuss stuff. Also filled with lots of fan art and discussion related to the stuff Mark's reviewing.
    • This came back to bite him big time when he was commissioned for a video on the Band of Brothers episode "Why We Fight," featuring a horrifically realistic look at a concentration camp, with the person making the request afraid to give him any kind of warning thanks to how strict his spoiler policy is.
    • Particularly weird was when an episode of Supernatural spoiled him for the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He took it pretty calmly, actually, and was mostly just amused at how he had no idea how time travel and whales go together.
  • Tear Jerker/Nightmare Fuel: During one of his Veronica Mars recaps, Mark told the readers about the times when he was raped. It's sickening, horrifying and incredibly sad.
    • In the same combination, any time he brings up being abused as a child.
    • As a straight-up Tear Jerker, the impromptu memorials for Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett in the comments sections of "Where No One Has Gone Before" and "Eric Part 3". Terry Pratchett even got a new site banner.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Largely his view of Divergent, that a promising story is shackled by world-building that makes no sense and a generic evil villain who it's impossible to care about. He does find that book 2 improved on this, though at the same time very much turned him off with the world record of Bury Your Gays.
    • Rather surprisingly, he also kind of feels this way about Fifty Shades of Grey, finding that he identifies quite well with Anastasia's insecurity about her appearance and her comparatively late in life first romance, and wishes that got more focus than the creepy S&M stuff. Plus, with just a few minor changes it could be a quite effective horror story.
  • Values Dissonance: He first ran into it with Song of the Lioness and its central romantic plot which is quite cringe-worthy today. His reaction actually got the author to seriously reevaluate the story, and admit that she now very much would like to go back and change it. Star Trek: The Original Series is also naturally a target with its infamous '60s view of women, with his coming down especially hard on "The Enemy Within," "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "Metamorphosis," and "Elaan of Troiyus."
  • The Woobie: He'll occasionally go off on a tangent about his early life if a scene in something he's reviewing hits close to home. From all evidence, his first 20 years or so were ridiculously depressing.