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Echoes and Mirrors » television

Archive for the ‘television’ Category

Some Thoughts on The Killing

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

I finished watching The Killing on Netflix. The show was addictive, grim, stylized and engaging for the majority of the series. The complexity of the search for Laura Palmer’s Rosie Larson’s murderer. The detectives are driven and intelligent, but also flawed and quick to jump to conclusions. Of course, this leads to mistaken accusations, which further leads to violence and more trouble. The story is genuinely compelling and the way it unravels is fun. The resolution to the investigation is satisfying in a way I hadn’t predicted.

It reminded me of a much more serious – or at least realistic – Twin Peaks. It lacks the surreal, the meta-critiques of its own genre and the spiritual that Lynch wove into his show. It doesn’t have the comic relief or the ironic use of tropes. It makes up for that with wonderful character development. But it does make the same fatal mistake that Twin Peaks did: they solve the murder, but continue the show. Twin Peaks may have had a really great extended plot to delve into (the film Fire Walk with Me wraps some of it up but leaves me wondering how awesome a full second or even third season could have been).

So, season three. It fast-forwards one year and we find that Linden has quit the police force and Holder has become a successful homicide detective. They stumble upon what appears to be the work of a killer they believe they caught and is scheduled to be executed.

The thing is, it while it reaches back and explores Linden’s history, a lot of the real character development is sort of eschewed for plot points. When it’s not, there are long, emotionally-charged but underwhelming episodes – the episode where the killer is executed, I think, was meant to be powerful and paced slowly to reveal a lot without much action. It does the latter, but not the former so well. Linden’s son is completely out of the picture and only sort of hand-waved away. Holder’s past as a drug addict is ignored in a similar fashion.

They also tried to up the ante by casting a few bigger names including Peter Sarsgaard and Amy Seimetz (who will likely appear and be praised in some upcoming movie reviews), both of whom give wonderful performances, even if they’re somewhat underused. Mireille Enos (Linden) and Joel Kinnaman (Holder) deliver praiseworthy performances again, even though a lot of the scripting seems uninspired. And it’s really in the story that the show simply falls a bit flat in season three. It simply can’t recapture the energy and paranoia that the first two seasons had. It is still grim and stylized. The city of Seattle remains a vital part of the of show, and possibly even more so.

Apparently (according to IMDb) there’s to be another season, though there isn’t any details on it yet. I was impressed enough to watch another season but I’m not sure how excited I am about it. It simply lost it’s energy and grip on me during the third season. It Twin Peaks’d but rather than reaching for an inspired if confusing extended plot arc, it sort of became a police procedural – one with lengthier and complicated investigations, but a police procedural none the less. Which is disappointing.

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I’m glad I don’t have cable anymore

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

If only so that I won’t be constantly pissed at SyFy. What used to be, in my youth, a go-to for Science Fiction programming has been replaced with bullshit camp, paranormal reality, a cooking show and wrestling. The only redeeming show they still have is Being Human, which will remain successful (and good) for the same reasons SGU failed.

I waited to post this until I finished up watching the second and last season of Stargate Universe. Ever since the Battlestar Galactica reboot ended, the channel hasn’t had much to stand on for really great sci-fi content. Caprica and Stargate Universe were the last two really great shows they had. And they have stood by their decision not to renew either show by citing ratings. It’s a specious argument, at best:

Another lie recently told by Syfy is that for SGU to continue it would need 2.5 to 3 times as many viewers as it currently has.

That means SGU would need to hover around 3 million viewers to survive. This is absurd to suggest when Syfy dramas like Sanctuary and Haven have been renewed averaging around 1.5-1.75 million viewers. Eureka hasn’t even been averaging 2.5 million viewers.

I’ll never believe that it was purely a numbers game, so much as they want us to believe it.

No, I blame this on the fans. Well, on SyFy’s audience, anyway.

Warehouse 13 is not a particularly great show. Neither is Eureka. Haven and Sanctuary are even worse. But they’re still around.

What’s the difference between the shows that stayed, with lower ratings, and the shows that got canceled? Depth. SGU was tonally dark and at times disturbing. It was dramatic and had a series-long plot arc, not just season-long plot arcs. No single episode can stand alone. Compared to the other shows, of which almost any episode (not counting the rare two or three part episode) can be enjoyed all by itself, without any prior knowledge of the show.

Star Trek was like that: there was no long story in it. Once in a while, a reference from a previous episode would pop up, but that was essentially novelty. And there was a little bit of character development throughout, but if you look at the characters in episode one and in the last episode, they’re basically the same.

Closer to home, SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis followed that pattern, essentially. They did setup slightly longer plot arcs, but the characters never changed. They were heroes on day one, and they ended as heroes. They had, essentially, no major flaws to speak of. The characters on SGU did. I wish I could find a link to it now, but a comment I read was that they had no appealing virtues. They fought with each other, made morally dubious decisions, were sometimes petty. They were pretty real. But they grew as characters throughout the shows run.

The characters on the previous SG shows never failed to accomplish their mission, even when things were absolutely hopeless. And they’d do it in 42 minutes. The characters on SGU often failed and one even had to be euthanized (and not in a pleasant way). They were fuckups, but they managed.

It was a lot like the wonderful dynamic on LOST and Battlestar Galactica. It was clear that the show was meant to be as separate from the previous franchise shows as it could be. Honestly, if they could have done it without it being a SG franchise at all, I think it would have been even better.

Which is why SyFy is full of shit. They’re pandering to the lowest common denominator. It’s the SyFy fans that are assholes. They like the shows with pristine, morally-upright and, so to speak, perfect heroes as the protagonists. Neither Caprica nor SGU could deliver that. It’s just not the way they were; they relied on the flaws. They were character-driven shows. The rest are driven by whatever can make a dazzling bad guy for one episode, or a half-season arc. I am talking about the same channel that killed Farscape before it’s time, so it really shouldn’t come as much of a shock. Train your audiences to be lazy, and they’ll be lazy. Then they’ll reject shows like SGU and Caprica, proving that you were right to give them Marcel’s Fucking Quantum Fucking Kitchen instead.

Here’s a prime example of the asshole SyFy fan whose opinion matters more than people who like real content:

I wasn’t shocked at all, quite the opposite. SyFy, ruined the SG series with SGU. SGU consisted of a bunch of soap opera drama that most of us simply weren’t interested in. Not to mention the “stones” with “lovers quarrels” and even sexual contact were completely absurd. I could go on and on about how absolutely retarded that show is, but canceling it proves what so many of us said from the start. What was really funny is that they tried to contain the damage at gateworld by censoring complaining posts and even suspending complaining user accounts. We all told them that wouldn’t work either! All they had to do was fire their writers’ and get back some of their old direction. Instead they abandoned their known fan base and tried to force feed us that crap. HA HA HA HA HA HA! I personally canceled SyFy LAST YEAR in protest.
Moral of the story?
If your existing franchise is working, leave it alone.
If your entire fan base starts rumbling about changes you’ve made, LISTEN.
If your show starts dealing with raping people that are not “IN” their bodies. You should probably re-think was the hell you are doing..

They alienated their fanbase? Sure, but I don’t think it’s too big of a deal when that fanbase is a bunch of dicks like this. What’s funny is that he thinks that the SG franchise pre-SGU was working. It was a miserable situation, at best. There is a response to this that pretty much sums up how I feel about it:

first off you’re a moron, and an idiot, probably why sgu didn’t appeal to you, you want boobs, guns, and explosions. sgu was broadcast as a drama, not a action show, it was heralded as a drama, something completely different from previous stargate series.Stargate universe isn’t a show where you always know the good guys from the badguys, and that the good guys always always prevail miraculously.And always have english speaking alians. sgu is a deeper and far more realistic show centered around each characters, you end up with a attachment to every person on sgu.and the alians are actually strange and alian. both sg1 and sga were entertaining series, for kids, as well as adults, but sgu is the much darker adult version of the stargate universe. and as Joshua said, “Not to mention the “stones” with “lovers quarrels” and even sexual contact were completely absurd.” when i can speak from experience, months away from family, and friends can and will lead up to love affairs, and even just “sex friends” and being confined within a preset amount of space when such thing happen can also lead to “lovers quarrels” sgu was a much more down to earth and gritty stargate series, i for one loved it, and i am a fan, i actually watched the movie back a little while after it came out, and ended up watching sg-1 and sg-a back to back when i was in Iraq.

all in all, stargate universe was the adult version of stargate, and because they ended up without the shallow idiots who make up the fanbase, as their basis for deciding either the show is a success or not, is the reason why it’s being canceled, it has nothing to do with the quality of the show, but rather the quality (or should i say quantity) of the viewer base. thank you, you shallow retards who only enjoy breasts, bangs, and bombshells, enjoy the wrestling, and bullshit unreality show that will overrun the channel, all because sgu wasn’t breast and explosions.

You sir, win. I’m glad to know that at least some people feel the same way about the state of televised Science Fiction that I do. But given SyFy’s recent actions, apparently we’re in the minority. More people want the shlock.

There’s a more detailed rundown of the whole cancellation debacle here. It’s worth reading and pretty frustrating. But the big take-away is here:

Other than BSG: Blood & Chrome, which has not yet been granted a full series order, Syfy has announced no such “traditional” science fiction shows on its development slate. Perhaps the closest would be Sherwood, produced by the team behind Sanctuary and described as a sort of Robin Hood meets Firefly. So far that one is just an idea, however, and hasn’t been given the go-ahead to cast and film a pilot.

SyFy’s audience might want scripted shows, but they don’t want anything too cerebral. They don’t want drama. They want action and boobs. (Well, I like those things too, but get real.) They want infallible heroes. That’s where the problem is, but SyFy will give that too them. SyFy would have canceled LOST if it had been their show (thankfully ABC was a little smarter than that). They’re appealing to the mental midgets, to the child-like capacities of their shithead viewers and they’re doing Science Fiction a grave disservice. It’s probably better that they rebranded their name away from Sci-Fi, because that is no longer what they do all that well. Also, would it kill SyFy to actually hire a goddamned military advisor and buy decent, matching uniforms for the soldiers in their monster of the week movies? Fuck SyFy. I have no use for poorly written, over CGI’d, intellectually-vacant bullshit. I’ve seen Vin Diesel movies with more brains and better acting in them.

Being Human will do well because it is expected to be a drama and it has a fresh fanbase that wants that. But it already diverged from the BBC show and in a bad way. It’s still a good show, but why is it that a show about vampires and warewolves can have character driven drama while a show about space-travel can’t? Because the fans are mostly idiots.

I’m way off into drunken ranting land, but here’s the recap: SGU was too dark, too smart, and too fucking deep for the audience SyFy wants. It scared them. It was edgier than most anything they’ve done in a long, long time – even more so than Being Human is – and it was uncomfortable for the fucking retards that want wrestling on Friday nights.

There, fuck you, SyFy. I don’t have cable and I won’t watch your bullshit.

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We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

The Huffington Post takes it out on the media that let this whole mess get out of control:

Yesterday afternoon, the leader of a microscopic cult of idiots who announced plans to stage an “international” day of Quran burning in Gainesville, Florida held a press conference, for a rapt media which decided that his moronic plans were the single most important thing going on in America. At that press conference, in front of “9/11 Truther” signs, this cult leader lied to everyone who was watching, telling them that he was going to call off his 9/11 book burning festival because he had successfully reached a deal with the people behind the Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan, in which they would move their facility away from the site of the World Trade Center.

Not a word of this was true, but it was amazing, all the same — at one fell swoop, we had finally knit up the strands of a season of irrationality into one big, shiny, synergized knot. This was supposed to be the end of Recovery Summer? More like Relapse Summer.

The media was culpable because nobody would have noticed if they had neglected to report on a bunch of nobodies doing something of little importance. They blew the whole story out of proportion. They reported a lot of opinions and hot air as fact. The whole ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ that never was, and so on. I hope what we’re seeing is the death rattles of contemporary news media, otherwise I think things are going to get far uglier than we can imagine before they get better.

PZ Meyers, of course, looks at it from a much different perspective:

So I’m looking at this recent episode with Terry Jones — a fellow I don’t like at all, and I think he’s a fanatical goofball — and I see that the serious problem here isn’t Jones at all…it’s all the lunatics who are insisting that burning the Koran is a major international catastrophe.

It’s just a frackin’ book, people.

From an Atheist perspective, burning a bible or a korrah or a koran are all the same. I don’t see a difference, either. Of course, being a lover of literature, I can’t condone burning books for their content, whether or not you disagree with it. All books hold some value, whether they be dissenting viewpoints, historical context, etc.,etc.. Try to figure out Renaissance literature without the bible as a reference and you’ll regret it. The same goes for other world literature.

But the media is using this as a way to remind us that there are Muslim boogeymen out there still. That is all. By saying “hey, don’t burn their book, they’re dangerous!” they’re asserting that Muslims are inherently dangerous fanatics. Which isn’t true. I’m sure there are some dangerous radicals out there, somewhere. But all religions have those, even the Christian denominations (they kill people for performing abortions, blow up federal buildings in Oklahoma, etc.).

Of course, I can say that I was opposed to the whole idea of burning the books because they think their silly religion is better than the silly religion of the book they’re burning.

To sum up:

News Media: 0 , Religious Nutbags, Warmongers, Trolls: 1

I give up. It’s 9/11. Remember how religion killed a few thousand people that didn’t need to die. If you don’t consider the US to be a Christian Nation, this seems really, really sad. I’ll pour one out for my homies, and I’ll drink one for the brothers I have deployed right now, but I won’t admit that anyone has died for any noble purpose. They’ve died for the arrogance and stupidity of others. My sympathy to all.

From Wonkette:

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AMC’s The Walking Dead: I’m fucking stoked.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked about this show. There is a terrible amount of potential for a series like this, and if AMC’s recent offerings (such as Rubicon) are any indication, it won’t be a disappointment. There is a similarity to 28 Days Later, but the zombies look far more Romeroesque (I didn’t see any running, and apparently their strength is in numbers, as per the Dead trilogy). Although some other common tropes were displayed, it is a trailer meant to hook as many viewers as possible. But with any luck, we get a great deal more character-driven than plot-driven story, more exploration of the human condition (especially fun in light of the undead roaming the streets) and a nice, slow multi-season plot arc.

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LOST! (again)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

If you didn’t watch the episode “Across the Sea,” don’t read this. It contains spoilers.

Seriously, I fucking love this show. They finally confirmed my suspicion that Jacob and the MiB are brothers. And they shed light on what the island is. And how the smoke monster came to be.

I’m flush with theories, none of which seem to quite fit. Some are good and some are bad, but none of them jive with the side-ways timeline, which is still a complete mystery to me right now. I really, really hope that the Oceanic 815 survivors don’t all get on a different flight and end up on the island anyway. I do hope that Desmond comes back and saves the fucking day. I am pissed about Jin and Sun dying. I wish Claire would just fucking disappear again.

This show is ruining my life.

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Star Gate Universe on MY television? It’s more possible than you think.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I know, it’s bizarre for me to mention any television outside of LOST*. I’m most of the way through the first season and I am flat-out impressed. Where the first show went wrong (in my opinion; obviously I don’t represent most sci-fi fans) was that it kept creating new, ever more powerful enemies. Shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine created a big war, concluded it and then the show with a very big ending. Star Gate SG-1 just kept pushing the limits, abusing their plot devices. I can’t imagine how badly screwed up and complicated and bizarre the Star Gate canon is, but it couldn’t be worse than the ‘official’ Star Wars canon. Or the bizarre crap the whole Star Trek: Voyager saga imposed upon the Star Trek canon (Omega Particles, anyone?). I couldn’t stomach the ridiculousness of Star Gate Atlantis past an episode or two.

Granted, this show used a similar technique to get a jump-start, but that is about as far as it went. SGU has taken the route of Battlestar Galactica – in-fighting, politics, tangled love affairs, etc.. The story is much more focused on the human aspect of the story rather than randomly dazzling the viewer with garbage science (they allude to fictional science plenty, but that is necessary in science fiction). It’s not pretty, it’s not happy. There are no shiny ray-guns or inexplicable discoveries. Nothing seems to be outright abuse of deus ex machina, but rather the clever pre-planning of actually writing a story. They’ve actually managed to blown off most of the old plot devices by placing the core of the story into a ship that pre-dates the entirety of the rest of the series. They get to recreate new ones, but hopefully they restrain themselves and let the characters stories takeover and really blossom. The characters are all well developed, chaotic and volatile.

The characters are the strength of the show – not the star gate oohs and ahhs. Not the zany ‘different worlds’ shtick. Not even the tried and true struggle of overcoming an alien force that the previous shows have relied on. But the characters and their overcoming of each other.

It’s certainly not LOST, but it’s good. (The only show I would consider on par with LOST would have to be Twin Peaks, but I’m not sure because it was canceled so quickly.) There you go, my admittance of actually enjoying another television show.

* Even more bizarre is that this is post #1000 on Echoes and Mirrors. Hurray us.

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omgomgomg LOST

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
Lost (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Was anyone else peeing themselves in excitement around 7:30 last night? ABC’s LOST was pretty much amazing. My guess that the ‘bad Locke’ was the smoke monster was spot on. I was also correct in saying that the bomb did go off.

I was amused and confused and caught up in the bizzaro world created by the bomb going off. I guess it caused a schism of sorts, with two parallel timelines. But the main characters are still grouping together in what might be otherwise seen as coincidence even without the plane crash (in 2004). I’m leaning towards all of them somehow being on the same Ajira flight in 2007 and, you know, crashing on the island anyway.

The premier episode didn’t answer any questions about Claire, Christian or Desmond, which was sort of disappointing. The island is not done with Desmond Hume.

But the nature of the relationships between Richard Alpert, the man in black (smoke monster) and Jacob became a little clearer. I’m not sure thhttp://assets.hulu.com/shows/show_thumbnail_lost.jpgat Richard was a slave aboard the Black Rock. I suspect that both he and the man in black are in servitude to Jacob somehow, and where Richard has served loyally and been given quite a bit of latitude for it, the man in black only grudgingly does his job and has begun his plans for killing Jacob and escaping to freedom.

And will Sawyer really go all Wiley Coyote on Jack for the majority of the season? Will Jack finally reconcile with his father? What’s the deal with Ilana? So many questions, so many ridiculous theories and a whole week to find out if they’ll even answer/confirm any of them.

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Quantum of Suck

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Sci-Fi Writer Attributes Everything Mysterious To ‘Quantum Flux’

“I’m really excited about this latest book—there’s action, adventure, drama, and a little bit of something for everyone,” said Fournier, who decided to introduce the narrative device after realizing that the galactic ambassador vaporized in chapter two needed to be alive a lot longer. “And, of course, there’s something I call quantum flux, which is like the binding force behind everything in the universe. Plus, it can cause time travel. And it’s an energy source, too.”

I laughed and then I remembered Star Trek: Voyager and sighed. Man, that show was made of nothing but deus ex machina. And I think they used plenty of Quantum Flux – or something. I need to scrub these thoughts from my mind with something good.

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

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Bailouts & Bull

Monday, March 16th, 2009

John Stossel is one of the few figures in the media that is somewhat reliable for a pro-libertarian viewpoint. And this special is amazingly well-done.

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