Monday, 25 November 2019
Bull - a US tv show about a rich guy who tries to get money from other rich people who aren't as nice as he is and give it to poor people, because rich people only care about money, and not the important things like family and... puppies. This is a show with a confusing set of priorities and a smug lead character that often confuses being an arsehole with being clever and/or right, though that's pretty much every lead character in an American tv show, and has been for quite a while.
Some thing with Jimmy Smits whose title I can't be bothering Googling but which clearly did not make a lasting impression: see above. A law thing where Jimmy "HOLY" Smits plays the dad of a lady lawyer but it was so ham-fisted I can't even remember if she was the idealistic one or if her dad was, or which one of them had to convince the other to use their law powers for good - well anyway it's another Jimmy Smits winner.
I don't know why I'm being sarcastic - I like Jimmy Smits.
Make me a Bail Organa tv show, Disney, you cowards.
Magnum PI and also
Hawaii Five-0 - these are essentially interchangeable shows set in Hawaii about ex-marines tackling violent crimes while surrounded by underwear models. Occasionally they help a sad child with a problem that involves either parental involvement in crime, or sexual trauma, they have big muscles and salute the flag at least once an episode. Now and then a gay person will appear and they will be totally cool with that person's sexual orientation - most likely they will even take time to lecture someone about loving gay folk unconditionally, and then possibly within the same episode or even the same scene someone will make a homophobic gag of some description, usually implying that a male character is in some way too effeminate.
There was a recent episode of... uhhh.... let's say it was Magnum, not that I or anyone else really knows the difference, and there were some Hawaiian protestors doing their protesting about Hawaiian things that I know nothing about but I will still lay good money it boils down to something white people did wrong - because if you follow the news in even a cursory fashion it always is - and a Hawaiian character makes an appeal to some police officers who are also Hawaiian to consider their heritage and not arrest all the peaceful protestors who are doing nothing but occupying private land meant for property development and the cops take all of a hot second to decide they have their orders, and no kidding, "only obeying orders" is not challenged or redeemed at any point because these are shows 120% in the tank for both the military and militarised policing. The unambiguous message is that cops will absolutely mess you up if you challenge capital, but they will do it "with a heavy heart", which as anyone who's been following British politics lately will know as the rallying cry of bougoisie bastards like Brian Cox and Robert Webb who are off to vote Tory on December 12th.
Okay I think I might be letting my personal politics get in the way of enjoying perfectly good Western capitalist propaganda, but getting back to these shows, they really are interchangeable to the point that the Halloween episodes of both shows were about escaped lunatics, and someone in one of the shows actually says "what are the chances of there being two escaped lunatics on Halloween night?" even though this happens literally every year, and is an annual Hawaii Five-0 event. Yes I am steeped in Hawaii Five-0 lore - I might be an irredeemable communist but I'm still addicted to bullshit tv shows.
Friday, 15 November 2019
You won't solve all of the world's problems with kindness, but none of the world's problems can be solved without it
I don't mean "bad" in relation to their objective quality or production values, though a lot of them certainly aren't good when evaluated in those terms, I mean in their philosophies and in what they contribute to culture, and what they say about us as people. Years ago, I stopped watching US medical shows for reasons I didn't fully understand as I hadn't explored my own political views in any meaningful way, though I assumed I was some kind of limp-wristed liberal because I liked Star Trek, but it's only recently as I've slipped to the dark side - the left - that I've come to understand that my objection to American medical dramas stem from an understanding of one of the fundamental principles of anarchist political theory: that all cops are bastards.
I will assume you are not aware of the underpinning philosophy and explain: not all cops are actually bastards by dint of incomplete lineage or in the vernacular sense of being a troubled individual with histories of questionable morals and/or actions, but all cops, in being cops, are representatives of an oppressive mechanism of control that acts in the interests of capital rather than the interests of the populace, and are - through collective guilt - to blame for its failings which at worst manifest in the widely-publicised actions of "bastards", thus all cops, in their active support of this system and its bastards, are bastards themselves, hence "ALL cops are bastards."
I realised that I had stopped watching medical dramas made in the US because all American doctors are also bastards. Interestingly, this is not purely because they support one of the worst healthcare systems in the world that is essentially a glorified kidnapping racket in which paramedics roam the streets abducting the vulnerable and pressganging them into a life of debt slavery, though obviously a good person would never condone this atrocious state of affairs let alone actively participate in it, no, I mean they are bastards because they act like it.
I don't think that real-life American doctors are as big a bunch of assholes as the doctors on tv, but to be fair, I am pretty much certain that this is not possible as it takes literally dozens of overpaid writers months of creative back and forth to make doctors in American medical dramas as utterly unlikable as they are, and some schlub just out of medical school hasn't got the time or energy to replicate that kind of effort on top of managing their work-life balance while staring down the barrel of their own lifetime of debt. Anyway, the doctors on US tv are assholes obsessed with money, so that's why I stopped watching medical dramas, but there is also a case to be made that since they support and materially benefit from a system which preys on the poor, they are not just assholes personally, but collectively.
Ugh I am pretty sure I started out this post trying to figure out if I should stop watching American cop shows because they're just propaganda - is "copaganda" a word? It should be - for a corrupt imperialist nation of warmongering capitalist psychopaths but this is the kind of thing that distracts me now, and I just made you read about it. So who is the real asshole? Impossible to say.
Friday, 8 November 2019
Why yes, I did watch the French War of the Worlds television miniseries, why do you ask?
I powered through this in two days because there's only 8 episodes and I knew I wouldn't come back to it if I didn't see it all in one go because it is painfully apparent very early in the show that this is not very good. What it most reminds me of is those BBC efforts in the 1990s and 2000s to dip a toe in the waters of popular genres from elsewhere in the tv world, particularly those daffy attempts to outdo the Americans in recycling dated sci-fi ideas and getting mixed results like that toss Invasion thing with Fred Ward, or that banal Survivors remake (although I did enjoy the second series a bit more).
So what's wrong with this adaptation of HG Wells' War Of The Worlds, then? Well for a start it doesn't seem to have very much to do with HG Wells' War Of The Worlds, though these days that doesn't seem to be a particularly big problem with adaptations, and some of the changes like the "Martians" not being from Mars and not being tripods aren't necessarily deal breakers, but when there's no large-scale destruction and just extras laying around the street, you're arguably putting enough distance between you and the source material that you'd best have some ideas beyond cruising on the tired old "human nature under crisis is ugly" grimdark nonsense that stuffs pretty much every sci-fi show now.
Anyway, this wasn't very good, but it was nice to get back to something other than horror after the dreadful washout that was spooktober, and say what I might about this show, but getting back to watching rubbish sci-fi is a nice way to cleanse the old media palette.
Friday, 1 November 2019
We have a nice middle class jury, their dislike for the insurance company is second only to their disdain for working class people
26th OCT - LEPRECHAUN 6: BACK 2 THA HOOD... To be fair, this is no worse than the last one, and if anything feels a little more focused. I also recognised Trish from the Lethal Weapon tv series, so it's not like the movie is full of complete nobodies.
Originally to be about the Leprechaun visiting a tropical locale to terrorise politically-correct spring breakers while putting on a Jamaican accent which I am sure we would all have been happy to see, the producers didn't fancy paying for outside shooting so instead we get another poverty safari to the inner city that Hollywood only seems to take a passing interest in once in a blue moon despite it being literally a mile from their damn door, and for some reason it's only this time around that we get to see the role of the police in the oppression of the poor, leading to an enjoyable sequence in which the Leprechaun beats two cops to death.
Apart from that, it's not terribly interesting or insightful, and probably a good place to call it a day with these films, just like Warwick Davies did. Maybe next year I'll get to Leprechaun: Origins, in which the villain is played by a professional wrestler - clearly the people who own this series have not heeded the fable of proud Icarus...
27th OCT - HALLOWEEN 2 which I have somehow not seen before, even though it picks up right where the first one left off. No John Carpenter this time around, though he co-writes the script, and the movie veers more into the familiar slasher territory of OTT murder scenes than the relatively restrained original, though what's here seems pretty tame compared to the kind of stuff that would follow it not just in this franchise, but in the genre it helped create.
There's still the creepy first person view of events from the eyes of the killer, and tense tracking shots that follow him as he silently closes in on his latest victim, but this is overly-familiar territory to me, really, and while I appreciate the odd bit of craft here and there, I didn't get a lot out of it.
28th OCT - AN HOUR OF TERRIFYING SCI-FI over on the Youtube DUST channel, a content host for sci-fi short movies that to the untrained eye - ie: mine - look suspiciously like scenes from a larger work rather than complete stories in and of themselves, but apart from the sci-fi horror segment DEDALO, these six stories with a horror bent stand on their own pretty well.
29th OCT - INSIDIOUS more like InSHITious, amiright?
This is an odd fish, as it feels like a found footage movie that has instead been shot as a regular multi-camera film. It's not the best horror ever, but for the first hour or so it's at least passable, even if the characters are remarkably thin even for this genre, but once it gets to the proper paranormal stuff it just becomes funny.
I criticised Halloween 2 for being overly-familiar, but it didn't feel like it was lapsing into parody of the genre in the way that this does as it ticks off the checklist of cliches from jump scares to gross dudes licking a lady's face. The story is your basic demon possession stuff in which the non-supernatural believerer has to do a supernatural to save his son from Darth Maul and his new legs, who clearly don't have a lot going on in their lives if this and a cameo in SOLO were all they could manage.
It certainly looks like they spent a few bucks on it, but that just means it's expensive rubbish. I did like that they went with dry ice and a bloke wandering around with a lantern at the end, as it gave it an unashamed sense of old-school melodrama only undone when actual spooks show up.
30th OCT - US is a great example of why Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone is so naff - he's kept all his A-material for projects like this and isn't wasting it on CBS' sad attempts to revive its roster of IP to pad out its ghost town of a streaming service.
US isn't actually that original or inventive, it's just well-made and does its job without lapsing into parody, which is why it's such a great antidote to crap like INSIDIOUS. Tense, scary, and bursting with potential for allegorical readings of the material, I would recommend it to anyone.
31st OCT - BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY: SPACE VAMPIRE is the crown jewel of any horror marathon and I watch it every Halloween.
The comedy parts are irritating, the acting is hammy, the sets are clearly the same few plastic sheets spray-painted different colours, the fx are terrible, the action scenes are ludicrous, and the story is full of logic holes, but by golly is it entertaining tosh. A riff on Dracula sets things off as the Starship Demeter crashes into the isolated space station where Buck and Wilma are planning on abandoning their (let's not kid ourselves) sex robot, Twiki, so they can go bone on a pleasure planet, so the station has to be locked down while everyone is checked for Space Fever! Unknown to everyone but a particularly wooden Buck, a creature who is just like a vampire in every way is feeding on the hapless idiots that cross his path by doing the heavy metal devil horns sign on their necks, which either makes them temporarily dead, or temporarily super-sexy, depending on whether or not it's Wilma who gets the horns.
Do you want to watch Gil Gerard's stunt double fight a hoard of space zombies? Of course you do, you are a fine and upstanding member of the science fiction horror understanderer's club and this is what we do.
I also watched AN ALIEN AFFAIR and ZOMBIE MASTER, two terror-themed episodes from the daffy CENTURIONS kids' sci-fi show from the mid-80s that has not become a gritty and underrated masterpiece with the passage of time, even with scripting talent like Gerry Conway and Michael Reeves, Jack Kirby and Gil Kane working on visual concepts, and the incomparable Udi Harpaz providing the soundtrack. This show is capital-B Bad, but so much so that it swings all the way around on the dial and scoots past naffness to "enjoyable" again.
An Alien Affair is a longtime fave, but I gave Zombie Master a go, too, as I figured I could probably stand zombies for 21 minutes in the context of this particular show, and you know what? Robot zombies I could live with.
But now I am done with zombies.
So what conclusions can I draw at the end of my month of almost exclusively horror-based media consumption?
That I hate horror, mainly.
I mean, I think I realised I didn't have a great deal of interest in sitting down to watch horror movies, but I put that down to most modern horror movies kind of sucking really bad rather than disdain for the genre, but... yep, I think I hate horror as a genre. I guess the writing was on the wall when I realised how much I'd gone off zombies - which I put down to their omnipresence - and shaky footage of ghosts shot on someone's phone while they scream OH MI GOD. I love stuff like Quatermass and the old Doctor Whos that have horror elements, but "pure" horror movies that I adore are few and far between - I could totally watch The Fog, Don't Look Now, Tremors or Night Of The Demon anytime, but these are exceptions rather than an indicator of my taste.
Bollocks to it anyway, I'm off to watch a bunch of CW superhero shows for a few hours to get back into my trash groove.