Over Stuffing The Threadbare. Day 148 of The Year in Fun.
1. Use 3-D Printer to Make Top-Shelf Whiskey, Time Traveling DeLoren.
2. Release My Inner Middle Child.
3. Divorce Work Wife, Shack Up With Work Mistress/Work Love Child at Part-Time Taco John’s Job.
So Mad Men, is it Yankee Wrinkle or Yankee Whistle?
And just what is that? Google/Bing: You suck.
Pop Culture Today: After the first two new Arrested Development on Netflix,
I give you a hearty ‘eh.’
While nice to see everyone again, only laughing once was a problem. Both overcrowded and repetitive, AD is better in short, short bursts. And maybe, some things are just better when left alone.
On The 101, Comin’ At ‘Cha Low T-Style, Full Stop, D101 /YoF:
1. ‘Homosapien Like Me: Sexcapades With Hollywood’s Elite’ By Coco The Monkey. Foreword By Betty White.
2. Emily Litella Day.
“What’s All This I Hear About Sax and Violins on TV?” Etc.
3. Today’s Short List of What Will Financially Ruin Me:
–Winning the Lottery. (A Lot of Those Dudes Seem Messed Up)
Hail to The Kaiser, Roll in the New Year, of Fun, Day ’94:
1. Make the Math Work, Add More Variables.
2. Death Muddin’ 3000, Buck Wild Edition.
3. Starting at Zero, Figure Out How Long It Would Take You To Reach One Million Dollars On Your Current Salary. Pretend You’ll Live That Long.
Bitten By A Jelly Fish in The Sea of Possibility, Day ’93, Oh, The Years of Fun:
1. Today’s Random Number is 27.
Once Again, Today’s Lucky Random Number is 27.
2. Speak ‘N Spell Name Day. (G-L-O-R-I-A)
3. Build Cut-Rate Time Machine.
Kill Hitler’s Third Cousin, Luigi.
Pop Culture Today: Miss the Game of Thrones premiere? Watch it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007HNFREW?tag=-10-15-20
When do you give up on a TV show? When I did my least essential guide to the new fall season a little while ago, I said I’d give The Event five episodes. Well, I’m ready to bail. This semi-review contains spoilers from the first two episodes. It’s okay, seems like the producers are intent on spoiling their own mysteries anyway.
The strange prisoners in episode one are aliens. Big whoop. It was the most obvious answer and the one I hoped wasn’t true. V is already sucking up the airwaves. It just seems lazy. I guess it’s nice we’re getting answers, but answers without new mysteries is not a very good story-telling technique. The characters aren’t compelling enough to warrant ‘why’ as the primary mystery. Breaking Bad and Mad Men are ‘why’ mysteries because we’re interested in the why of the characters actions mores than the actions themselves.
So, what is The Event? I guess it was a plane disappearing into thin air at the end of the first episode. The plane was going to crash INTO the president. Uh-huh. Wow, that’s, um, awesome, great flying. Where’d the plane go? Oh, it’s in Arizona (after disappearing in Miami). OK, mystery solved. And what about the passengers? Oh, they’re all dead except for Jason Ritter, our mechanical emotional ‘soul’ to the story. Really, it’s like every other character has zero emotional depth and is there as plot device. But Jason Ritter is trying to find his fiancée. So, every atrocity he commits is okey-dokey as he tries to find his girlfriend. But he was framed for murder. But, his crazy acts are okay because he’s looking for his fiancee and some bad guys have her because…? They’re real dumb? She’s in the credits and can’t die yet? Do not care.
But he loves her because of the multiple flashbacks show him meeting her and falling in love. You know, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that since she’s HIS FIANCEE, he loves her. No need to kill 10 minutes of show on the flashbacks.
Oh, how did the passengers die? The aliens killed them and they saved the plane to save the passengers. Uh-huh and killed them because….Hey, an actual mystery left over. Too late.
By showing how Jason Ritter met his girlfriend, the show is really just admitting that the audience can’t fill in ONE SINGLE BLANK. About anything. That’s a problem in a show that traffics in mystery.
Also, the show uses the real edgy jump around in time story-telling technique made popular 18 years ago in Pulp Fiction. And there’s no reason for it. None. A few flashbacks would work just fine.
I watched the second episode while goofing around on my iPad the whole episode (something that annoys me if I see Shells do it when we watch TV. Me=hypocrite). I missed nothing because they repeated the key points several times throughout the episode. An engrossing mystery should not be laundry-folding TV. It should be, um, engrossing. I put the iPad down once when President Hunk (Blair Underwood as a Black/Cuban US President, see Sci-Fi) was trying to get answers out of the head alien (Laura Innes, actress wasted in emotionless role). I want back to the boring farming game on my iPad after the second (of three) times she said she couldn’t say anything, but was good.
I might stick with The Event longer if Shells was watching with me. Then I could goof on the show like I used to do with 24. I got Shells to watch a few seasons of that show and goof on it’s ridiculousness. Nad TV shouldn’t be watched alone. I ended up watching the last season of 24 by myself and it wasn’t as good. I make this comparison because The Event more resembles 24 than Lost. It has many reality-denying action sequences and a focus on plot over characters. Shells said she wouldn’t watch The Event because of the way Lost burned us with it’s non-mystery solving ending and spiritual cop-out. I see that. I agree. The Lost producers said they had answers for every mystery they presented. They didn’t. The Event has the opposite problem, they have answers before the mystery is even fully allowed to blossom. I mean, it’s only been two episodes.
The Event should entertain on an acting level, but it doesn’t. The show has a bunch of decent character actors and TV show staples, but gives them no emotional depth or even hints at character shading. They’re card board cut-outs at this point, only to serve the plot.
See the man in the picture above. That’s character actor Zeljko Ivanek. He’s been in almost every TV show I’ve liked for the last ten years. And he’s died in each one of them. He even earned an Emmy for his best death in Damages. He was great in that as he is in everything he’s in. (oh, he did die in Big Love, right?) So, I thought I’d watch The Event until Zeljiko died. It should happen soon. He’s not an above the title listing in the cast. He’s in the ‘With…’ section which, if 24 (where he died) is any indication, this is where guest stars go to eventually be killed.
But not even the the thought of character actor Zeljko Ivanek’s awesome death can’t keep me watching. And that’s a low bar.
Also, I just learned Fox cancelled Lone Star, the one show of the new season I decided to champion. The second episode expanded their universe while keeping the plot tense and adding more depth to the characters. But now it’s cancelled. Booo, Fox. The Event is on NBC, but I’m taking out my anger on that because, well, I don’t know.
It’s a mystery greater than any on The Event.
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Kinda lazy today. I recently finished the Swedish TV miniseries The Kingdom which I talked about the beginning here.
In that review, I compared the emerging plot lines to a really strange paper Role Playing Game. After seeing all that Lars Von Triers had filmed on The Kingdom, the strangeness is ratcheted up ten fold.
There was to be a series 3, but a few key actors had died. Triers sent the season 3 scripts to Stephen King for the American version of The Kingdom, but ABC canceled season one in 2004 after just a few episodes. Too weird for the states even with King’s name attached. I did see it was on DVD, so I may seek it out.
I don’t have much more to say about the series after what I wrote before, but I did watch all 11 hours of sepia-toned Swedes and their (here it comes) shenanigans.
So, just some highlight to clue you in on how odd the whole thing was.
—A doctor wants the world’s largest diseased liver to research. The family wouldn’t sign the death consent form, so he has the organ donated to himself (as the organ donor card was signed), so he could own the liver. The surgery goes bad, he’s stuck with the liver. (in The Twilight Zone)
—A woman has sex with a man she didn’t know was a ghost, possibly The Devil. She gives birth to a baby who has a grown man’s head (Udo Kier) and can talk. The baby grows at a rate so astounding, his arms and legs are 10 feet long after just a few days, very brittle. The baby begs to die. The mom, after much agonizing, releases the baby from the large rigging holding him up and kills him when all the bones snap. Pretty cool.
Um, wow, that was probably the weirdest plot line. But every one of the twenty or so characters had strange stuff going on and to the shows credit, it all kind of worked because the production was pretty low-key and all the smaller moments were kept real.
If those two story lines interested you, check out The Kingdom on Netflix streaming. I can’t possibly see how the giant man-baby plot line would work in America (although, strangely enough, I saw Lake Bell give birth to Nick Kroll on Children’s Hospital the same week.)
It’s vacation time.
Going into low power for the next week and a half. Hopefully some game reviews to come.
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As the week plows on, I’ve trying out as many of the new shows of the fall TV season as I can get through. Everything I’ve made fun of in the Twitter feed (on the side), I’ve watched. Most of the new crop of shows haven’t really caught my attention enough to pull my eyeballs away from the more established shows I’ve been watching.
Except one, Lone Star. Of course, the one show I like got really crappy ratings. It’s already on death watch, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
And if you go to the Fox site or iTunes, you can catch the first episode for free.
Lone Star works because the lead is at once both charismatic and empathic, even though he’s nothing but a Texas version of Bernie Madoff. Newcomer James Wolk plays Bob, the son of a con man who’s surpassed the tricks of his dad (The very well cast David Keith) and in the midst of two separate long term cons which has netted himself two different lives with two different women. So, it’s a con man show. However, the twist is that Bob wants to go straight, but is so deep in both cons that to go straight he’ll have to con more.
The look of the film is that of an indie film like Up in the Air, it’s all show and little tell. Every other pilot this week, even that big, dumb mystery show The Event, the characters explained too much, not giving the audience too much credit in figuring stuff out. All the set-up is there in Lone Star, but it’s not showy and works more with the characters. And each of the characters, except maybe Bob’s newer girlfriend are shady enough and smart enough that Bob’s going straight won’t be easy. Also, it’s kind of hard to tell where this show will go. Like Lost in it’s prime, there’s enough different kinds of shows embedded in the pilot that each week could have a different tone. One week it could easily be a highly plotted soap, the next a mystery, the next a romance, the next a drama and of course, the big con.
This con man’s life is as it is, so we deal with the present and move forward. Some of the tropes of the con man genre are there, the different identities, the slippery escapes from simple questions and my least favorite, the dad who drags his kid into his criminal life. (Thanks, Paper Moon) That said, I like the dad/son relationship because it’s the most honest in the show and, unlike most movies of this genre, his dad does seem to love him.
I’m a fan of shows that talk about the nature of the American identity (Mad Men is the current reigning champ), we live in a country where re-inventing yourself is encouraged, where how we present ourselves to the world is more important that who we are inside. Our hero Bob has a problem in that he’s tired of presenting himself as the easygoing smooth charmer and actually wants to live the life he’s only been pretending. I think the trick of the show will be showing that in order to be what we want to be, we have pretend to be other roles for short-term gain. The role of boy friend, co-worker, friend and on and on.
Of course, I could be wrong about any deeper aspirations in the show. If so, that’s okay, there’s still a decent soap in Lone Star. Kinda like the vibe of Big Love, if Bill was a grifter, a soap about the costs of keeping a secret.
Anyway, check it out.
(Also, the third episode of Terriers was a winner and clinched the show into my full rotation. I love shows about anti-heroes.)
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