Friday, October 25, 2013


I'm back, kids!

My sincerest apologies for the long winter of unexpressed television discontent.

Working on Leverage now, Supernatural after that.

Don't expect any kind of schedule; I went from no job to all the jobs, and my free time is limited, but I love you guys and I couldn't stay away forever!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sorry it's been awhile guys! My computer has decided to not function for more than 12 seconds at a time and I'm working 90 hours a week, but I haven't forgotten you!

I'm still watching Leverage as I can (which is to say, about an episode at a time. At this rate, I won't even catch up, but I'll try), and I'll try to post more often, too.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Repo Madness

Hey, kids, wanna talk about something fun?

I watched Repo! The Genetic Opera last night. It wasn't... quite... the worst thing I've ever seen.

Now, I'd like to take this moment to interject: Of course I hadn't seen it yet; with everyone and their favorite aunt telling me that I simply had to see it, it's just amazing, can I really be blamed for avoiding it like the plague? Especially after I watched Rent under similar recommendations and was thoroughly disappointed. And double especially because Repo! has been referred to, in my presence, as "our generation's Rocky Horror."

Which I don't like, either.

But, hey, Repo!. (On a totally unrelated side note, the fact that I'm grammatically obligated to type the title with a ! every time... and then go on to properly punctuate is hair-meltingly annoying.)

Let's start with that most vital part of an opera: music. Now, I can be snobbily purist about a lot of things, and while opera is one of them, I can appreciate one that's not in Italian or German. That said, I really wasn't fond of this. For one thing, the singers veered wildly between a classic operatic sound and a more metal harshness for no apparent reason. It wasn't stylistically relevant and didn't add anything to the music.

The songs themselves are a mixed bag of the truly awful, the barely passable, and the simply wonderful. Thankless Job and Zydrate Anatomy are great songs, well performed; Gold and Infected are mediocre songs patchily performed; Mark It Up and Seventeen are glass-chewingly bad from start to finish with a bonus "WTF, is that Joan Jett?" (I wish I was kidding.)

There are some people who stand out: Anthony Head and Sarah Brightman. Yup, that's it. No one else is worth noting or watching at all. Don't get me wrong, they can all sing (minus Paris Hilton, though she got totally typecast and afforded me with a bit of meta-humor), but most of them couldn't sell it. Shilo is supposed to be our primary protagonist, but neither she nor the show ever made me care about her.

This show had some shining moments, but sadly they were all technical. Easily Repo!'s greatest strength lies in the creation of the world itself. It's fantastic; Darkly steampunk with a mix of Johnny Mnemonic and Orwellian dystopia, it fits the story (such as it is) perfectly. The director also made a brilliant choice by never showing us enough to be overwhelming, as such a thorough world can occasionally be. There were sweeping establishment shots, but they primarily showed us familiar things in new settings. Like the carnival-thing where we saw comfortable, familiar things like jugglers and fire-breathers lightly interspersed with the set pieces unique to the world, like the tent that Shilo hides in.

Which reminds me: Grave Robber. I have much hate for Grave Robber. Much. Hate.

We got off on the wrong foot from the start because he looks like every blood elf male ever (Deny it. Just you try).

At the beginning I thought that he was our narrator, which I was cool with. But then he was distinctly a character. Then he was a narrator again. And a character. And a character, and then a narrator.


Yes, the narrator as character has been well done. That is one thing I'll give to Rent: Using Mark as the narrator through the guise of his filming their lives was brilliant and I've seen it done very well. You know who else did it well? Into the Woods, where the narrator is just a narrator until he gets eaten by a giant in the second act as a genius moment of fourth-wall-breaking awesome.

Grave Robber can't function as both a narrator and a character for one reason only: There's no framing device. Nothing to separate GR Narrator and GR Character from each other. This is annoying to no end and it break immersion every time he comes on screen. Every. Time.

On the whole: Repo! is alright. I'll never watch it again (barring the possibility of torture), but it was so well done technically that I'm reluctant to call it outright bad.


Well, that turned into a review rather rapidly, didn't it? Sorry 'bout that.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Vampire Diaries

So, the new review's up. You can watch it here.

This show, despite its early troubles, was saved almost entirely by something that gets overlooked in the performing arts pretty frequently: chemistry.

All three pairs of siblings started out with great chemistry, and that made The Vampire Diaries enjoyable to watch from the start. When the plot was bogged or MIA, I knew that I could count on the interactions of Stefan and Damon, Matt and Vicki, and Jeremy and Elena. They quickly gave the impression that they had known each other for years, that they knew each others tendencies and automatic responses, in short, that they were siblings.

Sounds elementary, no? And yet, a ton of television disregards this simple feature that enhances immersion and overall quality immensely. Heroes started out with no chemistry between its various families and it was painful to watch with few to no redeeming features. Stargate: Universe opened in medias res with characters that had been working together for years but acted and spoke as though they had just met, and its pacing and character development suffered for it.

There are a few points early in The Vampire Diaries where this chemistry really shines; early in the first episode when Elena follows Jeremy into the men's bathroom to see if he's been doing drugs; when Damon and Stefan imitate each other (which doubled as impressively funny, to boot); Matt's reactions to Vicki's priorities and her messing with Tyler and Jeremy.

They were little touches, but they kept me watching a show that I might have given up on otherwise. They also impressed me with the actors, none of whom I'd seen anywhere before, and most of whom I'll keep an eye out for, because I've seen that they can pin down an elusive and rare quality and bring it to life as few can.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I'm doing a review I promise!

It's The Vampire Diaries though, and I finally finished watching it today, and I'm working on the script and this one will even have a video attached to it. Gotta say, I'm glad I didn't win the video contest, 'cause there's no way I'd be able to produce a video weekly and keep up with my real job.

So, those of you that are still here. Question for you. After TVD I'm doing Leverage (because it's filmed in the greatest city in the world, so I'm kind of obligated by home-town pride and all that). After that, though, I'm torn between Psych and Carnivale. Which would you rather see? Keeping in mind, of course, that Carnivale is a dead show.

Leave me a comment or send me an email, and while we're at it, my list is getting a tad sparse, so what else would you like to see me review?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good Character

You know what really bugs me about television shows? The characters.

That's an awfully broad statement, though, so instead I'm just going to talk about one very narrow facet of characters that bothers me: character depth degeneration.

Typically, when a show starts, the characters are silhouettes. Just outlines and possibilities. As the show goes on they reveal their personality quirks under various stresses, their histories loom, and their interactions catalyze into development and significant arcs. The quality of a character peaks at a certain point, though, usually at about four years. After that peak they revert to outlines, but they aren't possibilities anymore. Just stereotypes. Caricatures of their former selves, possessing only a fragment of their previous depth. They stop being people.

There are a number of reasons that this happens. For shows like sitcoms, writers cycle through fairly often, and there are chapbooks on each character detailing major events from their past, the previous developments are painted in broad strokes, and the rookie writer is informed of what is expected from each character. The writers aren't aware of the intricacies that go into the characters, so they don't write them as deeply, indeed, they can't.

For comedies, the characters are deliberately twisted and distorted to find new humor, to write jokes and scenarios that haven't already been covered. Usually also at this point, the show starts being terrible.

In dramas, though, character depth degeneration is usually caused by a regime change in the writing room. See, dramas depend on character interaction, so they tend to have better developed characters in the first  place. The change also is subtler, as a change in head writer doesn't usually happen with someone completely new to the writing team. The new leader is aware of some, if not all, of the previous canon, so it's not as much a change in character depth that we see as it is a change in the writing style.

Which itself causes a degeneration of character depth because the new writer emphasizes different traits, and they can't change the stuff they don't like, so they just write it less or not at all and lo! We have a shallower character.

I was thinking about this tonight because I just finished watching the latest episode of the only show I follow regularly: Criminal Minds. It occured to me last week and again today that the writing has taken a significant dive on this show. It's still good and the overall quality of the show is fantastic, but the writing this season has been lackluster. I worried at first that the head writer, Jeff Davis, had been replaced or hadn't been on the team for most of this season for some reason, but a swift look on IMDB told me that he's been on this season, he just hasn't written for the show since the middle of November (Into the Woods, for those who are interested. Great episode).

I don't know if the drop in quality this season is exhaustion or if Davis has had a lesser role in the writing of the scripts, but the writing is definately what's lacking. Know how I know?

There's a new character.

And it's a girl.

I'd given up on interesting recurring characters this season because JJ was written out (hastily, and badly) due to meta budget cuts, but now they've written in this new girl, a cadet, and I thought (hoped) last week that she'd be a one-off character that we wouldn't see again for awhile, but the writers contrived (so contrived) to bring her back, and I fear she'll stick around. She also had not one, but two subplots set up, in a show that largely minimalizes subplots, in her first episode. Her entire character in her first episode was that of The Girl With a Dark and Victimized Past. She cried a lot. It was awful.

So between the less-than-stellar writing, the change in style, and the new and stereotyped character, I think it's safe to say that they show is on the decline and we can only hope that it dies with dignity. Which is fine, it's had a perfectly respectable run.

But the writing of the characters is always the first herald of doom, and Criminal Minds has given me a great example to show you.

And that is why I hate characters.