Friday, May 17, 2013

Season Wrap Up on Elementary **SPOILERS**

Well, that was... trite. Even predictable, that finale. So Irene never really existed, she was Moriarty all along, and "Irene" was Sherlock's Mirror of Erised... everything he really ever wanted, and deeply distracting. And when she proved not to be distracting enough, she was taken away to pull the carpet out from under him. And if you couldn't spot this within the first couple of minutes (or even get inklings right from the start of the Moriarty arc), then you really haven't been paying close attention.

I've watched Elementary right from the beginning, and initially I was prepared to hate it. To my very great surprise, I didn't hate it. I found Miller's take on the character entertaining, and his relationship with Captain Gregson a mite touching. The episodes were enjoyable as little mysteries, but nothing too taxing on the cerebellum. It's been a decent procedural with a bit of flair, so I've kept with it.

As an adaption of Holmes, though (and I'm not even a ACD fanatic) it's disappointing, primarily because it doesn't really go to creative risks. Sure, they changed Watson's gender and ethnicity, they changed Moriarty's Gender, and made Mrs. Hudson transgendered. Of the three of them, though, they only bothered to do anything interesting with the lattermost.

Joan Watson is boring. Sure, she gives the dialogue adequately, and she's learning Sherlock's trade. She's gone from one profession to another, but she's not really grown as a person at all. She's learned new skills, but she's the same boring person she was at the beginning. There's just no chemistry at all between Liu and Miller. They get into scenes together, they say their lines, but the don't really interact. Occasionally Liu gets the serious "Oh, no. Is he gonna relapse" face on, but they don't really bounce off each other. There's little if any conflict between them. And frankly, there's more UST between Freeman and Cumberbatch than there is between Liu and Miller, not that UST is required, but just sayin'.

And then there's Moriarty. Take away the change in Gender, and she's Moriarty by the numbers. She's a posh, level-headed criminal mastermind who mostly operates through intermediaries and proxies. It's just Moriarty as Moriarty has been played, just played by a woman. And this has made me realize how little the gender swaps matter at all. Changing a person's gender might, on the surface, seem like a risky, creative thing to do, but, in reality, it's just obvious and unimaginative. I know that Sherlock's version of Moriarty has split most down the middle, many finding his Joker-like madman of a Moriaty too OTT, but say what you want, they did something legitimately different with the character. Making him the unhinged counterpoint to Sherlock's controlled logic was a Moriarty that had never been done before. The Dormer Moriarty is just the same old Moriarty with a different gender.

Now Miss Hudson, that's the only time they added something to a character, really. Not because she's transgendered... true, it's never been done before, but like I said above... the gender doesn't matter so much as what you do with the character. And Elementary gave Miss Hudson a life outside of Sherlock's flat. Making her the lovelorn inspirational muse currently between geniuses... well, that's genuinely an aspect of the Hudson character that's been made just for this version. So, accolades there.

Over all, I've found Elementary entertaining, but ultimately disappointing so far. It's better than I felt it had any chance of being at the beginning, but falls just short of what it could be.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Grimm Tale Well Told

So, since staying at my brothers, I've been introduced to a series I've not seen before: Grimm. For those not in the know, this is a Supernatural/Procedural Hybrid about a detective in the Portland Police Department named Nick Burkhardt who is a descendant of the Grimm family. The Grimm family are humans with the special ability to see creatures called Wesen... mythological Human/Animal creatures that many of our fairy tales are based on. The Grimms can see these beings as they are when they are feeling emotional. Historically, the Grimms hunted and killed Wesen, but Nick, working as a Cop must find a different way; seeing that some Wesen are just really looking for quiet, uneventful lives, whilst some still revel in darkness. Nick protects the good Wesen and handles the bad ones as a Cop if he can, but a Grimm if he must.

I have to say, I probably wouldn't have given this show a try on my own, but I'm glad I've gotten into it, because it's a really entertaining show. Most episodes have the "Monster of the week" formula, but it's always well done, and there is an overarching political drama coming from the Wesen society hidden within our own, filled with intrigue, shifting loyalties, and hidden agendas. The intensity of these stories has been building steadily over the course of the season and a half that has aired already.

One particularly well executed element is that Nick is having to learn this Grimm stuff from the ground up. His only tutelage in the legacy of the Grimms came from his dying aunt in the first story. So, Nick has had to have all of this explained to him, learning it all along with the audience. As Nick becomes entrenched within the Wesen world and all the drama therein, we get pulled in with him.

A lot of this schooling comes from a character called Monroe. Monroe is a Wesen, a Blutbad... a type of creature that once inspired the legend of the Big Bad Wolf (BAD WOLF!). Whilst the Blutbad are generally violent and devious, some, like Monroe have put aside their baser urges and become productive parts of society. Monroe himself, for instance, repairs timepieces for a living, and generally seems no different than most people.

Monroe is, at least at first, a reluctant helper, but he gets really invested in helping Nick explore his heritage even as he explains what he knows about the various types of Wesen. By the time the first season comes to a close, Monroe is a close and valued friend to Nick, and a source of much of the show's wry sense of humor.

Despite Nick's partner Hank and girlfriend Juliette initially staying out of the Grimm side of things, they eventually get pulled into the Wesen scheming as well, as Nick's aunt cryptically warned that they would be.

If you haven't watched this show, give it a shot, whether you feel I've explained it well or not. It's a great addition to the TV landscape today, and if you give it a chance, it will become a high-point of your week.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Veronica Mars the Crowdsourced...

Once again I forgot about this blog for a metric age. So much has been changing in my life recently, though, I am bound and determined to actually post things now. I have thoughts I want to express, and Twitter sometimes just isn't adequate. And this is a topic I am really, really interested in, so this seems like a great place to put it.

A lot of interesting discussion on Twitter this week about the success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter. Most of the debate seems to center around the presence of Warner Brothers in the mix.

Warner Brothers, as the owner of Veronica Mars as an Intellectual Property, has to be involved in the process of bringing Veronica Mars to the big screen. They literally HAVE to be there. Yet, many are saying that a big corporation allowing a film project to hit Kickstarter for funding is either "Tacky" or "Gauche" or "Violates the indy spirit of Kickstarter." I'm afraid I just can't agree with that.

John Rogers, Former Producer/Showrunner of Leverage, argued (I think rightly) that Warner Brothers allowing a film they were unsure of to engage in crowdsourced financing (essentially presales in a way) to see if there was a market for the film represents a sea change in the way Hollywood Studios may bring riskier projects to the screen. By setting a goal it had to reach to get greenlit, then actually putting that funding toward whatever budget WB is going to put up themselves to enhance the quality of the finished project... well, that's just not been done before, and opens up a new means to demonstrate that there is an audience for these films. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but a big Hollywood Studio like Warner Brothers even entertaining the idea, much less implementing it... that's just something new coming into play, and succeed or fail, it's really damned interesting.

The ridiculous Hipster argument of "violating the indy spirit" is likewise a nonstarter. The idea that by doing this that Warner Brothers is somehow preventing people from also backing independent projects is a strawman of epic proportions.

Of course, the question of profit sharing has also risen its head, and that's trickier in some ways... but this isn't being done as a traditional investment. It's not even allowed to be done that way by law... yet. There is a Crowdsource Act making its way through the corridors of power, but it's not there yet and has a limit of $1 million, which would be insufficient for larger projects. I really see this as presales. People are putting up money to support the film and are getting more than just the film in return. It's iffy, and any genuinely sticky issues will come in here, I think.

We live in interesting times, it seems. I can't wait to see how it all plays out. And most of all, I actually want to see that Veronica Mars film. Loved that show. Congrats of massive proportions to Rob Thomas, who I have been a fan of since the original Cupid in 1998.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I always forget this blog

I always mean to update this more, but I always forget. You see, since finding Twitter, I generally can speak my mind far more succinctly, and with some people actually reading what I say.

I really should start allowing this blog to be the place I put things that won't fit on Twitter.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Dollhouse.

So, I wanted to talk about Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. I know it's been a while since Season 1 ended, and much has been said about it. I did, however, just rewatch much of Season 1 on loverly Blu-Ray, and I want to talk about it... but I don't just want to talk about the show. I want to talk about reactions to the show. So, here we go:

The Show.

I watched Dollhouse first run, week after week. I didn't always get to watch it as it aired (such is the curse of a retail job--blogpost coming about my dissatisfaction with that aspect of life, but I always got to see the episode soon after airing. I must admit that I found it slow at first. It was interesting, and I liked it... but I didn't love it. I did, however, trust Joss Whedon as a storyteller. I felt he was going somewhere with it. My trust paid off in dividends, for around week 3 it started surprising me, and getting my interest. Just a little at first, but the interest was there. By week 6 I was hooked.

You see, it so gradually built the mystery of what lies beneath the Dollhouse's "programmable people" TV high concept, a creepy undercurrent of mystery and intrigue, that I didn't notice how invested I was getting in it. We know what the Dollhouse does right from the start. But we don't know why the Dollhouse does it. We don't know what it's all for. The more we learn about the Rossum corporation and its purposes for running the Dollhouse the more we peel the onion of the show, and the more I became anxious to see the next episode.

The infamous "missing" episode "Epitaph One" holds some clues for where it's going, but I can't help but think that it's at least partially a mislead, showing us a little and trusting we'll make some predictable assumptions... assumptions that can be subverted in time.

Wherever it goes, I'm along for the ride. I trusted Joss Whedon, and Tim Minear, and Steven DeKnight, and Jane Espenson, and everyone involved in that first season once and got something great. So, I'm gonna trust them again. I doubt I'll be burned.

The Reaction:

I've noticed a sort of internet "to cool for the room" attitude developing around Dollhouse in particular and Joss Whedon in general. The more Joss made some popular genre shows like Buffy and Angel, and with the zeal of the Browncoat fans of Firefly/Serenity (if I ever win the lotttery, I will contact Joss Whedon and personally offer to fund a sequel, for thus is the amount I am a Browncoat) some of the net community, those who make a point of going against anything a large amount of people go with, have lashed out against Joss and Dollhouse.

Well, maybe "lashed out" is wrong. It hasn't been so much of a "lashing" as a sort of general "I am so over Joss Whedon" malaise. Which is just strange, frankly. It seems to start with a few of the more vocal "cool person who doesn't follow the common masses" netizens, then it became joined by others who wanted to be just like them (and for whom irony is a vitamin supplement), and then it formed a narrative. The narrative was that Dollhouse was poor, or just ok at best, and that Joss was overrated anyway, and I never knew anyone ever saw in him, and Buffy wasn't that good to start with, and Firefly couldn't have been all that since it was canceled. That narrative then became the opinion of the "in crowd" of the those who didn't follow the crowd.

It's like there was an Alpha "cool person" (no pun intended) and the other "cool person" wannabes followed along to be part of the pack, and simultaneously prove themselves individuals. It's a paradox.

Of course, I could be talking crap. It has been known. I am a strange and sometimes shallow and simple person. So, it could be that I only see a simple view of things, and that I am simply a mindless, brainwashed sheep who has been fooled into enjoying Joss Whedon and crew's work...

...funnily enough, I'm good with that. I think I've got the better bargain.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Well, It's surely been a while.

I started this blog with the greatest intentions: to make a daily journal of my thoughts and feelings. Of course, I posted in it for a bit, then quietly forgot it. And looking back on the things I did post doesn't exactly make me go "Man, I had my finger on the pulse of the Zeitgeist!"

So, I have gone back and wiped all but three of my posts, and maybe... just maybe, I'll keep posting. I really must stop holding crap in... and Twitter's 140 character limit sometimes stifles.

We'll see. I'm pretty lazy by nature. Oh, hey... read that there Coupling entry. What you don't see is that Moffat responded to it! I originally posted that on a Doctor Who fan board that no longer exists, Outpost Gallifrey. Moffat was a member there prior to becoming The Guy of Doctor Who, and he saw my post and responded. He gave me this: Closure. Below is Moffat's response to my post.

Oh, all right.

Sally said yes to Patrick, they got married and are very happy. Especially as Sally beat Susan to the altar, and finally did something first. Patrick is now a completely devoted husband, who lives in total denial that he was anything other an upstanding member of the community. Or possibly he's actually forgotten. He doesn't like remembering things because it's a bit like thinking.

Jane and Oliver never actually did have sex, but they did become very good friends. They often rejoice together that their friendship is uncomplicated by any kind of sexual attraction - but they both get murderously jealous when the other is dating. Jane has a job at Oliver's science fiction book shop now - and since Oliver has that one moment of Naked Jane burnt on the inside of his eyelids, he now loses the place in one in every three sentences. People who know them well think something's gotta give - and they're right. Especially as Jane comes to work in a metal bikini.

Steve and Susan have two children now, and have recently completed work on a sitcom about their early lives together. They're developing a new television project, but it keeps getting delayed as he insists on writing episodes of some old kids show they recently pulled out of mothballs. She gets very cross about this, and if he says "Yeah but check out the season poll!" one more time, he will not live to write another word.

Jeff is still abroad. He lives a life of complete peace and serenity now, having taken the precaution of not learning a word of the local language and therefore protecting himself from the consequences of his own special brand of communication. If any English speakers turn up, he pretends he only speaks Hebrew. He is, at this very moment, staring out to sea, and sighing happily every thirty-eight seconds.

What he doesn't know, of course, is that even now a beautiful Israeli girl he once met in a bar, is heading towards his apartment, having been directed to the only Hebrew speaker on the island. What he also doesn't know is that she is being driven by a young ex-pat English woman, who is still grieving the loss of a charming, one-legged Welshman she once met on a train. And he cannot possible suspect that (owing to a laundry mix-up, and a stag party the previous night in the same block) he is wearing heat-dissolving trunks.

As the doorbell rings, it is best that we draw a veil.

Steven Moffat

Steven Moffat spoke to me... he created Coupling and gave me a proper ending because I whined about it... and he's the Savior of Doctor Who*! I still can't get over that.

*For some folks, Steven Moffat is going to wipe the stain of Russel T. Davies' era from Doctor Who. No more romance, or treating the Doctor like a god! He'll bring back darkness to Doctor Who, and cut out the lame humor! Of course, this neatly ignores that Moffat has had the most overt romance in his episodes, has had the Doctor defeat an undefeatable enemy by basically telling it to stop ("I'm the Doctor and you're in the biggest Library in the Universe... look me up."), had the Doctor playing drunk, and has never killed anyone in his stories by any means but old age.

Don't get me wrong, I *Love* Moffat's stories, but I love RTD's stories too. I personally think RTD is brilliant. I've never met the guy, never spoken to him, but basing off his work, his interviews, and his really enlightening book "The Writer's Tale" have made me think he's one of the most brilliant Producer/Writers in showbiz today.

And yet, he has been derided for doing the same things Moffat gets praised for.

Personally, I think they should both be praised.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Coupling, PBS and the Pledge Drive of Doom.

So, I finally got a chance to watch the entire run of the BBC comedy seriesCoupling. One of my local Public Broadcasting Stations recently began playing it on Saturday nights as part of a large block of British comedy, including the likes of Waiting for God, Fawlty Towers, Vicar of Dibbley, and Father Ted. I’d been enjoying Coupling most of all because a.) It was, to me, the funniest of the lot, b.) I’d never seen it before and c.) It’s written by a long-time Doctor Who fan and now Doctor Who writer… a fact I totally forgot when I started watching it, and only remembered about 3 episodes in. That’ll teach me not to watch opening credits. This PBS station, however, just entered one of its dread periods called “The Pledge Drive” and has taken off the entire block of comedy that it normally shows. Meaning, to continue with Coupling, I had to take matters into my own hands.

I know my fellow Americans will be all too familiar with the concept of the PBS Pledge Drive. Let me elaborate on this for those who live outside the States, however. The dread Pledge Drive is a time honored tradition in which these publicly funded television stations will take off the majority of their regular programming (at least the only stuff that anyone even mildly sane would ever watch), and replace it with “specials” while interrupting every half an hour with on-air segments hosted by bland, usually homely people will try and encourage you to give money to their station by reminding you that it is only with public funding that they can bring you quality programs like this. Usually, these “special”, “quality programs” are turgid, 2 hour long videos of: some new Opera sensation (“oh, my god… he’s blind and he can sing like that! Isn’t that amazing?” …”NO! It would be amazing if he was deaf and could sing like that!”), a travelogue to some far flung place, an Irish pan-flautist, or most amazing of all… a cooking special. Sure, sometimes one of them will get the bright idea of playing a comedy marathon. Sure, once upon a time they used to have Doctor Who marathons, a fact slightly mitigated by the fact that they’d still interrupt them with Pledge hawking. Most of the time, however, it’s a metric ass-load of pretentious nonsense, sometimes sinking as low as celebrating the career and “talent” of Sarah Brightman. What they don’t seem to realize is that some of us like reliability and consistency in a television station. Maybe I would have been moved to give them money had they left my Saturday nights undisturbed, allowing me to get my Coupling laughs from them. Instead, they had a cooking show on, and I gave my (not small) amount of money to Amazon to get some DVD’s. Capitalism wins again, I guess. I do hope that at least some small amount of that money filters back through the channels of purchase and into Steve Moffat’s pocket.

Onto what I thought of Coupling: I loved it. Every last episode… though Season 4, episode one was a bit uneven, but by Mr. Moffat’s own statements (I think I read something like this) , Richard Coyle’s departure made that somewhat inevitable. I would have to put Coupling into my top 5 comedies of all time at the very least, if not actually at 1… which I admit, it’s hovering at right now. “Unconditional Sex” was somewhat a muted success for me, though, as I discovered that Lou Gish died a week ago right before I watched it, meaning the jokes about Julia being dead weren’t going over so well with me at the moment. I know some didn’t care for Oliver, but I kind of liked him. He had Jane’s psychology sussed, I think. He was nowhere near the neurotic mess Jeff was… yeah, ok, Jeff was hilarious… but would you really hang out with him? Gina Bellman is fantastic. Her portrayal of Jane is one of the highlights of the program for me. Patrick and Sally were made for each other. Steve and Susan had to work at it a bit more, but were a great couple.

My only complaint: I need closure on this. I know it’s unlikely any “ending” will be made, but I just need closure! I need to know if Jane and Oliver work out. I need to know if Sally actually gives Patrick a slightly less rude answer to his proposal. I need to know that Susan was ok after the C-Section, and what kind of neurotic father Steve made. I NEED TO KNOW!!!!

Ok, that’s me venting for today. Move along. Nothing more to see.