CAT | Thought Storm
There’s another question that has to be asked:
What have Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof done to the mystery genre as such?
Who is ever going to believe the next guy who comes along in fall 2013 claiming to have written THE mystery show and promising that it will all pay off in season five?
Everyone will throw them seven letters into his face: BSG + LOST. And nobody will believe that he can do it – even if he actually could.
Is LOST the “cry wolf” one too many?
Why don’t they hire someone like J. Michael Straczynski who has proven(!) with Babylon 5 that he can keep track of a five season arc and do modifications should the need arise (actor jumps ship, …)?
Since everybody seems to be starting to count at zero instead of one the first decade of this century and millennium is now over. So it’s time to recap these past ten years and take a look at the TV Shows it has given us.
Let me give my résumé at the beginning: Of the four decades I know TV Shows from (70s – 00s) this was without question the best decade for us TV junkies. When you read my review you might say in the end “Hey what about <insert your favourite here>?” (e.g. The Sopranos, Dexter, The Wire, Six Feet Under, …) but that’s exactly my point. This decade has given us so many outstanding shows that it was impossible to watch them all. Also, everybody has a different set of favourite genres but I’d say that every genre got their fair share of excellent series in the last years.
But let’s face it: There’s rarely any series (if there’s one at all) that could keep up the quality and its appeal for its entire run. Some had a bad year in between, some fell short at the end. But even in these “bad years” they had more quality episodes in it than entire shows from previous decades. So all the shows I am going to name have of course aspects that can be criticized and I invite you to do so.
For me the most outstanding characteristic of this past decade’s shows is that they are more often than not more about the “journey” of the character(s) than the actual events. It’s not the character who shines a light upon the unfolding events but it’s the events that shine a light upon the character and his development. I have to say that shows (hereby excluding comedy shows that work with stereo- and archetypes) that don’t have a real character development don’t interest me at all. But if the character development is interesting I might even watch shows from genres that usually don’t interest me at all.
If the character development is interesting enough I might even set the fact aside that my second favourite characteristic is missing: A real story-arc. The first TV Show in my TV universe that had a real story-arc, was Babylon 5. Later Star Trek: DS9 did the same albeit not in that quality and complexity. But these shows were two of the rare exception in the 90s (another famous exception would be Twin Peaks, but I never watched it). It seemed that viewers weren’t interested in either developing characters or story-arcs.
Categories: Short Review, Thought Storm
Tags: 24 · Alias · Angel · Babylon 5 · Battlestar Galactica · Being Human · Bones · Buffy the Vampire Slayer · Burn Notice · Chuck · Dexter · Doctor Who · Farscape · Firefly · Friends · Heroes · House M.D. · How I Met Your Mother · James Bond · Knight Rider · LOST · MacGyver · Six Feet Under · Smallville · Star Trek DS9 · Superman · Supernatural · The A-Team · The Big Bang Theory · The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy · The Sopranos · The Wire · Thursday Next · True Blood · Twin Peaks · Two and a Half Men · Veronica Mars
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When I look upon my 2009 Movie Marathon blog entries it confirms something I felt for quite some time now.
Whenever I think about what I am going to watch next, it’s getting ever rarer that I decide to watch a movie of mine. I am still interested in them, I buy them at the stores … but then they land on the shelves and often stay there. Even if I’ve never even seen the movie I can’t bring myself to put it into the player when I just have to turn around and pick one of the season boxes.
When I have to decide if I’m going to watch a 90-120 minutes movie or a 170 minutes season disc with 4 episodes on it I often decide for the latter. Due to its very design I have a much deeper emotional connection to TV Show characters and I have the possibility to follow their “lives” for years instead of hours. Even if the story of one episode wasn’t good at all, there’s often something that brings the character forward and I’d hate to miss that just because this one particular story wasn’t as good as the others.
And so I watched six entire seasons of Smallville between December 6th and today and I watched these characters becoming young adults, making decisions and mistakes and having to live with them. So here I have an experience that lasted over 90 hours in comparison to the 90 minutes of a movie.
I even have a list named “Movies you could watch again sometime soon” but I nearly have to force myself to actually do it instead of grabbing another season box from any of my favourite TV Shows.
And so I watched 352 season discs in the past year and only 88 movies and I am seriously starting to wonder if it still makes sense for me to actually still buying movies – even though I tell myself at that moment that I am surely going to watch it.
Let me start this post with a constraint. This post is not about science-fiction shows or shows that portray obvious über-equipment (like K.I.T.T.). This is about shows that at least try to pretend to display “reality”. I am of course aware that there’s a thin line but I hope than I can show my point during this excursus.
But first this College Humor video:
Technical equipment has always been part of TV shows that play in the “here and now”. And why shouldn’t it? It’s part of our every day life, so it should play a part in the TV shows we are watching. The questions are, what part, how big a part and how realistically the equipment is used. And – to give my conclusion at the beginning – I think the more modern a show is and the more real-world technologies there are the more unrealistic becomes its portrayal.
Categories: Thought Storm
Tags: 24 · Alias · Bones · Buffy the Vampire Slayer · CSI · Hackers · MacGyver · Riptide · Smallville · T.J. Hooker · The A-Team · The Fall Guy · The Net
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I can’t remember how it started but I can’t seem to stop it now.
Every time I watch a movie or a TV show I think about what could be the earliest time one could premiere this without destroying the pop culture references.
I am not talking about stylistic means, I am talking about visual or textual references to the real world or other movies/shows.
To make an easy example: In the opening of Dirty Dancing baby makes a reference to JFK’s murder. Thus you couldn’t premiere this film before 1964 without making that comment a un-funny aneurysm.
Yesterday evening I watched Kill Bill Vol.1 and apart from the indirect references to eastern movies in general (and to Hattori Hanzo) there were two references that stood out: The owner of the restaurant is referred to as “Charlie Brown” and Sophie looks like a “villain from Star Trek” with ST being the later time anchor (Charlie Brown strips have been around since the 50s).
Interestingly there are only a few main anchors that pop up all the time: Fixed anchors like JFK’s murder, the moon landing in 1969 and it recent movies 9/11 and variable anchors like Star Trek and Star Wars. The latter ones are variable because if I can move a movie back in time I surely can move the referenced movie, too.
Luckily both Stars are basically endpoints, especially Star Wars. Since it plays in a galaxy far, far away it does not contain textual references to our real world and can be moved back in time to the dawn of cinema. Star Trek makes historical references to the 2nd World War and the Chicago of the thirties but I tend to play that game only until the beginning of the 50s.
The more references a movie/series uses the more fun it is to think about but the more likely it is that it will be “anchored in time”. To move Buffy as a whole back in time is a sheer improbability even if you accept to lose a third of the references. So I break it down to an episode level (so when Spike mentions that he fed of a flower person, it makes Woodstock the fixed anchor for that episode).
Once I’ve established the earliest premiere date I try to imagine how the movie would look like in the eyes of that year’s people. For example, premiere Back to the Future in the actual year 1955. That would work since people would assume that Marty’s car and the music and everything from the “future 1985″ were invented by a writer. Like the same writers imagined a year 2015 with hover cars and a holographic Jaws movie.
Although there is a reference to a “John F. Kennedy drive” it mentions nothing specific and JFK was already a senator at that time, so that wouldn’t be a problem.
This way my mind keeps active even if I have seen that movie several times. Imagine Top Gun in the early 50s where the US military was testing their first jet engines. Imagine Armageddon (with all its special effects) shortly after the founding of NASA (although that would be prevented by the actual naming of Neil Armstrong as the first man on the moon -> fixed anchor; Armageddon also mentions Star Wars (several times), the Kennedy murder, Evel Knievel and some other things which have to be taken into consideration).
Somehow it can be a lot of fun.