Thursday, 26 January 2012
I am over in medias res openings for my shows. It seems like every episode I've seen in the last few weeks has been the middle or end of the story I haven't seen yet.
Watching: Charlie's Angels, which I decided to see to its end since it got itself canned after only 7 episodes. 7 episodes of hot women and things exploding to a guitar soundtrack and somehow they could not get people to watch it. Hot women, explosions, guitar rock, Miami setting, and to top it off a link to an iconic camp-trash franchise and a killer theme tune and still it fails. If you think about it, that is actually quite amazing.
This is trash, the audience knows it's trash, the producers know it's trash, the network knows it's trash - there was absolutely no pressure on anyone to excel or even approach competence so long as the soundtrack guy is liquored up and told to make widdly-widdly-woo noises to his heart's content, the second unit director is left to have stunt doubles kick people in the face on top of exploding speedboats, the cast - male and female - squeeze into ridiculously tight and small clothing in most scenes, and the writers are left to join the dots between all these elements in some arbitrary fashion that may or may not involve a female suspect who must be wrestled into submission after falling into something filled with oil. I'm not sure I even want to live in the kind of world where people exist that could screw that up.
Napoleon Dynamite - the new cartoon series based on the cult comedy flick of the same name. More outlandish and prone to fantasy elements than the film, which kind of turns me off even though it's a solid 'toon with some decent laughs here and there. S'okay, though.
Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Watching: Flash Gordon, the most recent tv adaptation that swapped rockets for wormholes to save cash. It's mostly below par, I can't dispute that, but there's the germ of a half-decent show in here and towards the end it was even entertaining in its own right to the point I shan't qualify or defend my enjoyment of it. Basically, once you get over the fact that it doesn't have the Queen theme music, I think you might be entertained by this show just as much - and possibly just as begrudgingly - as I was. Besides, the Hawkmen episode was so terrible it had to be deliberate. Speaking of Hawkmen, any excuse to link to this:
HE JUST WINGED ME
Alcatraz s01e02 - again I ask: what has this show got to do with Alcatraz? They really push the branding with the title card showing light swooshing across the name every time there's a break in the action, but Alcatraz is an afterthought to the show, which I am convinced is improvised from a bunch of post-it notes on the plot outlines, as there's this bit where a guy walks into a gun shop and rather than make a clever post-modern observation that references something like the gun-centric Call Of Duty videogame series, the character just flat-out says "Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3" and leaves it at that. It's like the writers made a note to reference that videogame and then just didn't bother and the note got shot by the director anyway. I'll say this much, it gives me hope that I might get paid to write something someday, as there doesn't seem to be much effort or concentration involved.
Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman because as with Flash Gordon, cheap dvd box sets are like catnip to me. Lois is a real bitch in this, I have no idea what Clark sees in her. The FX have dated, too, but that's never really an issue for me as much as how and why they're implemented, and to be honest there's not a great deal of invention or thought in how the FX are utilised and the show would have been just as Supermanny without their presence. A lot of duff episodes so far, and I'm beginning to wonder if my appreciation for this show stems more from the fact that they actually went and made a weekly Superman series at all. Smallville doesn't count, of course, on account of not having Superman in it. Or good writing, interesting characters, decent actors, or the balls to just admit that the audience was gay men and teenage girls who just wanted Lex and Clark (later Oliver and Clark) to just kiss already, whereas in Lois and Clark the camera unashamedly adores Dean Cain's oiled body. He gets his muskles out a lot and generally looks very buff while Smallville tended to avoid that kind of thing. IN DENIAL.
Monday, 23 January 2012
Friday, 20 January 2012
Watching: Bones spin-off The Finderer, which I probably shan't watch again because the main character is deeply unlikeable.
Psych - highly recommended to me by multiple persons, but suffers from the same problem as the Finderer in that the main character is a huge prick impervious to ever admitting as much, though there's a vague 1980s vibe to it and it comes off as a lot like Monk, which I liked. I'll probably watch it again.
Thursday, 19 January 2012
Watching: The Good Wife - I really have no idea why I enjoy this menopausal drama quite as much as I do, but it's one of the few shows I sit down to watch and actually pay attention to.
Harry's Law - retooled this season (it was a rush-job midseason show cobbled together by David Kelly after networks passed on his other pilot, an adaptation of DC's Wonder Woman) into something a bit more generic, HL is regularly savaged by snooty critics who pick up on the heinous crime of a main character who's politically conservative, but I like it. Kathy Bates is always watchable even when the story is a bit trite, though there are some bright spots among the backing cast - it's hard to go wrong when you've got a member of Spinal Tap onscreen.
My Sherlock theory is that he faked his death with a rubber mask or something put on Moriarty's corpse - something like that so continuity baggage can be dispensed with early in the next episode and the big mystery of the week can begin.
As a lover of the ludicrous I'd prefer something more convoluted, like the female journo being the real brains behind Moriarty and the Sherlock at the end being the person who kidnapped the children earlier in the episode, making the final showdown a ham-off between two evil doubles, but it'll likely be something simple. This episode was a bit of a cheat for me, not because of cliffhangery gubbins but because there wasn't much of a mystery in this show about a famous detective and it's just like Millennium, where the lead shows up and uses his magic seeing powers to tell everyone stuff that the viewer doesn't really have time to figure out themselves. It's all right, I suppose, but steps on the toes of the recent big-screen adaptation of the same source material, which was a little more entertaining, though equally non-mystery-ish.
Bones - I... am not sure why I still watch this show.
I watched some right at the very beginning (or rather I had Sky installed and couldn't be bothered cancelling it and just let the Sky1 programming wash over me when I was reading or too drunk to walk) and then stopped before the end of the first season, picking it up again about a year or so back as a way to fill dead air while I worked at a small design firm. I still watch it. I don't know why.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Watching: Alcatraz - one of those "name first, premise later" concepts that clunks everything into place really, really badly to the point you wonder if the writers put little notes on the script to themselves for later like "and then he says something like"you'll need a partner how about him" and they look at the comedy fat guy" and then then for some reason rather than think about how they might play this scene out in some way and go through the actual process of, you know, writing, the script notes get shot as they are rather than an actual script being drafted by the three - three! - writers credited with this season opener. That's what Alcatraz feels like - a bunch of script notes cobbled together from notions people took in the production meeting like "wouldn't it be great if our show could be a bit like Fringe or Lost or the 4400 or the Event or--" and then I went out to make a sandwich rather than finish this sentence where I list all the tv shows of which Alcatraz is derivative in much the same way that the writers of Alcatraz walked out and did something else rather than produce a decent season opener. It was a ham sandwich, FYI, and I find that some chedder and coalslaw help give the flavor a bit of body.
Alcatraz is a show about how everyone disappeared from Alcatraz one night in 1963 AND NOW THEY ARE COMING BACK and because we live in a world that does not have Google on your phone, this premise is watertight from the beginning, and certainly doesn't suffer from the difficulty of every other show in the sci-fi/fantasy genre in that there are no new ideas, merely different ways of telling existing stories which is why Battlestar Galactica came across as fresh despite being a remake. Presentation is everything, and yet Alcatraz is formulaic on the production score, looking like any and every other fantasy/sci-fi cop show out there. There's this vacuum in place of its identity - the use of Alcatraz itself is superfluous to the concept - and no reason why I should care to watch the next episode.
Rob - which stars Rob Schneider, and alongside American Horror Story it's one of those shows tremendously unsubtle in its construction but at least dedicated to some idea of what it's supposed to be, in this case a regular sitcom with a few of the central comedian's ad-libs thrown in to give it an identity tied to that comedian's persona a bit like How To be A Gentleman or Last Man Standing. This approach creates a clash between the demands of an actual plot with resolutions and stuff and the sensibilities of a comedian used to more misanthropic humour derived from the notion that life is inherently unfair, but the upshot is that while the happy resolutions can be a little trite in contrast to the central performance, you're never actually sure if the happy ending or the gruff central air of misanthropy is what's out of place, and the happy ending could be the way things are supposed to go and the griping of a hardened cynic is what's really out of place. I shan't lie, though, I did laugh at Rob, but mostly in a horrified way, like when he tells a Mexican family gathering "now I know what went down during all those siestas" when he notices they're a large family, and then defuses the situation with "I'm joking, you're a large family because you're catholic and you don't use protection". And then there's the hilarious sitcom staple of characters walking in on someone and seeing things out of context like when someone has their pants down when the vicar walks into the room kind of thing, the joke here being that Cheech Marin thinks his mother is being raped - fun for all the family!
Cards on table, though: this is a terrible show, a total train wreck - and I may just love it.
Monday, 16 January 2012
Friday, 13 January 2012
It's getting to Boot Up Arse Time for Bryan - that time when I can no longer blame my slow pace on illness, though God knows I'll probably catch something else soon enough, or drink myself into another round of medication and/or surgery like I did last year - though I like to think I might have learned my lesson by now. Ahaha.
Keeping in with the tradition of things called the A-Team that are better than the original I came across this on Youtube while trawling for amateur music. Fair enough I am essentially saying "this is better than an Ed Sheeran track", but it's still worth a listen for the commendably folky approach compared to the over-produced original.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
Hey, Gentaro, why so frustrated when you're a superhero with space rocket powers who's surrounded by scandalously young Japanese glamor models dressed like schoolgirls all day long?
In me news, I have been watching and enjoying:
Today I watched some tv and broke wind a lot. Saw The Lady Vanishes for the first time and my first thought was "this is like that horrid Jodie Foster film from a few years back" and yeah, I realise this doesn't narrow it down for you but I specifically mean the one where her daughter disappears while they're on a plane together. I prefer the Lady Vanishes over the plane thing, as the latter just kept pushing the hysteria while the former seems to run a gamut of styles over the course of the story including slapstick, psychodrama and black comedy, though I'm on the fence about the turning point in the mystery coming about due to chance rather than insight or invention on the part of protagonists, as I think that's a cheat in mysteries. Good flick. Watching it has also made me realise I have seen Birdemic but not The Birds. I am unsure how something like this happens.
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Colouring old pages and Jebus but I sucked so bad when I started this book.
No rants about Japanese telly you've never heard of and will never watch today, but I suppose I could try ranting about CSI Miami except, you know, it's like ranting at the wind to complain about American tv shows that are conservative, ill-informed and detrimental to the health of our culture. The latest episode (s10e12) sees a Steve Jobs analogue murdered by a magic bullet while trust fund kids complain about "the man" while talking on iPhones about how they're going to smash capitalism by vandalising Apple Stores - it's basically an episode written by the Frank Miller of three months ago. There's this bit where a character comments "I didn't even know this movement was still going on" and it's clearly supposed to be about how such things are flash-in-the-pan kiddie protests (there are no adults or working class people onscreen at any point during the protest scenes), but what it actually sounds like is the writers admitting that they don't have a clue about their subject matter and they're gonna stick the boot in anyway, which I would like to say is at least honest, except in practice it drips of a reactionary insincerity almost as funny as the episode where a character disapprovingly remarks of Grand Theft Auto that "you get extra points for raping the cashier" during a simulated robbery despite the fact that I don't think I've played a videogame in over ten years that had a scoring system. Angry Birds, I guess, but that's an iPhone app, and doesn't feature much in the way of robbery simulation.
Also, a couple of weeks ago I started saving for a new computer using the method of putting a couple of pounds aside every time my pc fucks me off in some way - and by "my pc" I of course mean "Vista" - and now have two hundred and five pounds in a jar, this being less a tribute to how good I am at putting money aside and more about how I am one hair away from putting my fucking boot into this monitor. It'll still take a while to replace the machine as between Vista and my Xbox failing in massive ways (1) I have resolved to never pay Microsoft another penny, which means getting a Mac, which are kind of expensive - it's seriously like getting a car. I suppose I could do that Linux thing people keep mentioning, but from here it seems like effort, you know?
(1) The Xbox is a fantastic but long story, the short version of which is "it took money from my account without my consent, won't play video or view pictures, and now none of the God damn games on it will work and all of this is how the machine is deliberately designed to function if you have more than one in your house." Way to reward your loyal consumers, MS.
Tuesday, 10 January 2012
I know you wish some things could have been resolved - "closure" they call it - but life is just a lot of loose ends
Watching: Lots of Twilight Zones from the 1960s and 1980s. I found Burgess Meredith popped up in a few and while he's always of value to each story, I didn't like The Obsolete Man much because its overall message is a bit muddy, with Meredith's Wordsworth character being a Christian who deliberately tricks a man into being killed by the state which Wordsworth supposedly hated - hoisted upon his own petard, I admit, but still a death that is on the hands of the supposedly Christian Wordsworth. That's something I never really liked much in Ben Hur, either - despite being a story about the effect of Christ for the better upon man, the film is unquestionably about Judah's revenge rather than his forgiving Massala's betrayal, though I saw a tv remake a few years back that took the higher ground and had the two forgive each other on Massala's deathbed, which I thought much more in keeping with the original themes even if the rest of the remake wasn't that great. The Charlton Heston version, while a classic, still has Heston's Judah come to the realisation that vengeance is hollow too late to save Massala, who dies still consumed by spite(1), which strikes me as a bit too much having of cake and eating thereof, like those born again types - you know, cunts - who live it up, drinking and drugging and whoring all their lives who then find Jesus and become sanctimonious and preach that no-one else must do what they did even though it worked out great for them. Hmm... I seem to have gone all catholic and judgey about this. Best move on to more intellectual television...
Jane By Design. This is one of those shows which will make any person in conversation with me ask - sensibly - "Bry, you're a grown man, why are you even watching this?", and the plain truth is that while I look through the day's torrent lists for my usual shows, I compulsively grab anything that is "series one, episode one", or "s01e01" as the filenames usually have it as it's the ground floor on something new and you never know, it might be the next Treme or Game Of Thrones. But it's usually the next Vampire Diaries.
Jane By Design is one of those shows where X character accidentally ends up working in Y business because of Z misunderstanding and must navigate Y without people finding out about Z. X usually has a love interest in Y, but there's like complications and stuff which make a relationship problematic, probably. It could be any show from Teddy Z to Ugly Betty, really, and the specifics aren't even important because whatever you think it might be like, you are likely correct, because it does everything I would expect of such a premise and springs no surprises upon me. I think that's why I have no great objections to it, though I'm pressed to think of anything to recommend it.
The Secret Circle - you know how I went all catholic up there about forgiveness and thus by extension it can be assumed I am in favor of not being judgmental? Well screw that, this is a terrible series - kids inherit superpowers from their parents and blah blah blah. It pretty much means running about a house as someone chases them at some point in most episodes. And there's a secret society that kills people with superpowers because of course there's a secret society that knows about superpowers and wants to kill people with superpowers because it is lousy writing 101 that there be a secret conspiracy in there somewhere. I am so fucking sick of secret societies that are secretly controlling events, it is the oldest plot in the world ever at this stage and I hate it and god damn it, I am drawing a line in the sand now - anything - ANYTHING AT ALL - which springs a secret society plotline on me I am dropping immediately.(2)
I also dislike how the writer goes to great lengths to reinforce that these are high school kids before launching into a bit of cheesecake and a sex scene, with a character telling us "I can't have sex with you just now, I have school" before having her clothes magically fall off - no, really - and then presumably PATRICK STEWART SEES EVERYTHING. It's a bit skeevy, and undermines the whole point of having 20-30 somethings playing kids so you don't feel guilty about having boners while you're watching. Erm... which I don't.
Kamen Rider Fourze - the latest installment of the long-running superhero franchise aimed at kids and made in Japan. Either of these elements individually would suggest a rather loud and/or colorful experience is ahead, but apart from an enthusiasm for the ludicrous, the Kamen Rider series - especially the post-90s iterations - have been dark affairs, with the cast massacre of Faiz being the most obvious example of how much further the show tends to go than western kids' programming, though Hibiki's unintentional deconstruction of the oppressive demands of Japanese society upon its youngest members is equally dark, though ultimately life-affirming in a way that made it one of my all-time favorite tv shows. My favorite Kamen Rider series would easily be Kabuto, which - taking place in an alternate 2006 after Tokyo suffers a meteor impact in 1999 that leaves an unknown number of people not killed directly by the blast infected with a body-snatching alien parasite that lays dormant for years until it assumes control of the human host and launches into a killing spree - opens with a fantastic bait and switch by building up a character as a decent everyman type who you really root for, only at the last second to reveal that rather than being the hero of the series, he's actually the stumbling comedy foil of a hateful and arrogant jackass who turns out to be the lead instead. Constantly inventive and never afraid to be ludicrous in the quest to be entertaining - one episode revolves around a cooking battle between Kabuto and an alien worm that can only be resolved by using a magic kitchen knife that contains "the secret of ultimate flavor" - Kabuto is where I'd suggest any newcomers start their exposure to Japanese superheroics rather than the dry Ultraman series, but Fourze is where I suggest your exposure stops, because it is just plain anarchy so far.
Themed after the 40th anniversary of manned space flight, Fourze revolves around a disparate group of high schoolers typical of Japanese culture (rather than common western archetypes) as they join forces against a mysterious cabal of supervillains led by the school's principle and it. Is. Mental.
The change to a group of kids as the force against evil rather than a self-reliant central protagonist toiling in secret is a departure for the series even though its stablemate (they share a timeslot called "Super Hero Time") Super Sentai has been doing it for decades now, but on top of the slow move away from the grim roots of Kamen Rider that began with Den-O introduction of mecha and culminated in W ,'s bonkers premise of two people with different superpowers sharing one body, Fourze is pretty unrecognisable as the Kamen Rider I know, and looks suspiciously like someone sat down to make a parody of Japan, though I have a theory that this being the first post-tsunami series has been a motivating factor in how toothless it seems, because whatever else it may be, it seems deliberately engineered to be affirming in that it's pretty to look at and really pushes the importance of friendship and being decent to each other as paramount even in the environment of a Japanese high school system that is culturally reliant upon the student body to bully its members and ostracize those who are different in order to enforce the idea of conformity and push social norms as being desireable above all else - seeing diversity not just celebrated but elevated as it is here is a huge deal for Japanese kids' telly, and much as it changes something I'm quite fond of into something else entirely, I think this time at least the change is a welcome one.
(1) Which is actually in keeping with the novel where he lives beyond the chariot race and dies at the hands of a spurned lover many years later, having still sought Judah's death in the interim.
(2) Unless it is Hawaii Five 0, because nothing could make me stop watching that short of an episode that is intelligent and thought provoking. I DO NOT LIKE SURPRISES.
Friday, 6 January 2012
Just workin' my way through some colouring and edits while I get through the last of the cold - well, hopefully the last of the cold - so I can start the New Year at last. The headache that's been splitting my brain since last Thursday has broken in that way they do when you can taste and smell things again after whatever ungodly marriage of mucus and blood has been clogging your nostrils finally parts like the Red Sea before a Lemsip Moses and blowing your nose leaves the hanky looking like the Turin Shroud. Blech.
Still, glad to be nearly over it. A bit late to be having a beer to celebrate, so I'll settle for a good kip instead.
Thursday, 5 January 2012
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
I hope Christmas and the New Year found you well. It was mostly quiet around these parts with the odd trip around the pubs of the town and as is traditional I have made all the usual resolutions about making more effort in various areas of my life but they sort of have to wait until I get over the whole holiday period and I will say this for The Vomiting Bug, it may be unpleasant but it is remarkably well-named. Anyway, we'll see if the resolutions hold in any way once I get up and running, though for now I'm just getting back into posting on the blog again and chipping away at the "to do" pile in between jaunts to the water closet.