Archive for the ‘television’ Category

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CHUD: NUMB3RS

October 18, 2007

My first DVD review for CHUD (Cinematic Happenings Under Development) has gone live. This time out, I take a look at the third-season DVD set of NUMB3RS. Do check that out, if you care about such things. At least two more reviews in this vein are coming soon.

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Battlestar Galactica Wanders the Desert

October 11, 2007

Here’s something I wrote in the comments on someone else’s post. It’s substantial enough to share here, I suppose. It felt good to get some of this off my chest, though.

So. About Battlestar Galactica:

I certainly don’t think it’s “pitch perfect.” While I enjoy the show quite a bit, and there’s a whole lot that’s right with it, the way the show introduces and then drops threads is frustrating as all hell. The lack of consequences for characters bugs the shit out of me.

Earthlink beacon and deadly disease? Oh, nevermind. Cylon homeworld out there somewhere? Whatever, I guess. Cylons want to exterminate us. Or, no, wait, they want to use us to make babies. No, no, they want peace. So they can occupy us. Unless they want to follow us to Earth. Or something. It’s all about the Cylon God. Or it used to be. But that was just Six. Or something.

What the hell is Lee Adama’s story? Not, like, what’s his background or motivation, but what is his story? When this show is over, I bet it’s just going to be a tangled mess of good-looking emo nonsense (very well played by Jamie Bamber, but still). He resents his father, but really he loves him, but really he defines himself by being CAG, except for all the insubordination, and his loyalty to the President, and all the times he’s pulled a gun on important people, or run off and hidden with them, or killed kingpins, or floated in water and wished he was dead, or become a lawyer. Or something. And gets away with it every time.

(By the way, Romo Lampkin is still a ridiculous, awful, LARP-quality character. Mark Sheppard makes that character into more than he deserves to be. I want more explanation of how these characters came to be survivors of the Cylon attack. And the occupation. You remember all that stuff, right? How do you so utterly forget the inciting event of the series? It should be influencing every character you introduce.)

Lots of good stuff in the show, but this is not a well-planned epic. This is a collection of exciting ideas, doled out in bursts, and threaded together with the appearance of a narrative trajectory. Put it another way: Ron Moore’s making it up as he goes along. And that’s fine, but let’s not celebrate the great genius behind the master plan, because there is no master plan. I reserve my judgment on the presence of genius until the end credits roll on the last episode.

Music: Tom Waits, “Walk Away”

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Things Toby Says

October 10, 2007

Who would have thunk that I’d get the most hits ever to this site just by not having a job. Thanks to everyone who commented or wrote in with kind words. Unfortunately for those of you here looking for dirt, I can’t say much more yet about the future or the past. Not yet.

So let’s talk about writing. Sometimes, when I’m feeling like a pretentious and self-involved writer1, except I’m not actually sitting down and writing anything, I watch this clip of The West Wing (episode: “Arctic Radar”) in which Toby vets Will’s writing. I like the part where he says, “This is incredibly good, Will.” I close my eyes and imagine I’m there.

But I also like the way he describes something that’s maybe akin to writer’s block, but isn’t quite the same. Writer’s fatigue, maybe? Whatever. The point is this: Toby’s talking about how badly it’s going, but he’s still got his own “500-word stanza on American leadership in a globally interdependent age,” doesn’t he? In this little parable, “the President” is anything or anyone for whom you are writing.

(While we’re at it, I adore the writing and the timing in this clip about the funding available from the NEA.)

If you’re not a regular visitor, I expect you won’t be coming back for long, so let’s save you some time. Here are three of the most-read posts on the site. In most cases, this is because I fell backwards into valuable Google keywords. In one case, I think it’s because the post is sort of good. You decide:

1. The punchline is obviously, “So, just when I’m awake.”
Music: The Drovers, “Book of Songs”

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How It Feels #32

August 23, 2007

Jordan: What if you did tank tonight? What are you afraid would happen?

Matt: Strangers wouldn’t like me, friends wouldn’t like me, the network wouldn’t like me, the press wouldn’t like me, women in general wouldn’t like me, and Harriet wouldn’t like me.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

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Raines

May 10, 2007

RAINES: You hear that? That’s the sound of a thousand complacent yuppies thinking about their money.

The show is almost good in a gleefully formulaic way that, especially when counting its opening title sequence, recalls character-driven cop shows of the 1980s. The show is almost good as an ensemble of characters with modest conflicts that ultimately make you feel all safe on your couch. The show is almost good.

In truth, I ended up watching quite a few episodes of Raines, despite its flaws. That might be ’cause I wanted it to do well (and grow into itself), or because I enjoyed it (and thus it is better than I think, on some level). I really don’t know. The fact is, I hope it gets both darker and funnier and returns to the air. It will probably do none of those things, though.

Also, whoever designed that police precinct set loves The Shield like crazy.

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Cylons as Seraphim and Nephilim

March 27, 2007

Fortunately, I didn’t hate “Crossroads, Pt. 2,” the third season finale of Battlestar Galactica, as I expected to.

On the one hand, I like puzzling over the sorts of unresolved ideas brought forth in a show like this, but I’ve also been doubtful for the last two years that Ron Moore and company have had any real idea what the hell they were doing in the long run on this show. Ideas get brought up and then dropped so quickly on this show that it’s hard for me to stay invested. The end of the second season set-up a three-episode arc that essentially reset the show, with a new exodus, a new loss of life, and a new rush to seek out Earth with the Cylons hot on our trail, while scraping off stuff like the Battlestar Pegasus.

Then this Cylon virus happens, and is forgotten. This artifact of the 13th Tribe is found, but ignored. This ridiculous Mary Sue LARP character — the Irish lawyer who wears sunglasses indoors, knows every character better than they know themselves, wears black, has a cat in an attache case, and is a kleptomaniac — comes in and doesn’t have the common decency to die. Ugh.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time brainstorming on behalf of this show and refining the idea I’m putting forth here. I have too many other things to do, but for the sake of the Internet that loves half-baked theories, here you go.

Spoilers ahead:

The Cylons are old-school Zoroastrian angels. Not literally, but in the metaphor of the show. They’re celestial beings that look like us, but aren’t.

The Cylons, moreso through retconning but also potentially by design, are surrounded by mock numerology. Their names are numbers. They organize according to their rank and fashion. They refer to their cousins (of a different type) through their number — the Final Five.

The Five may evoke the Hamsa, the Hand of Fatima (or Miriam), an Islamic and Jewish protective image. They are the seraphim, protectors and guardians (“All Along the Watchtower”). Each of the four Cylons revealed in “Crossroads, Pt. 2” are guardians, supporters and aides to human characters. Saul Tigh has long been at Bill Adama’s side. Galen Tyrol’s kept the fleet’s fighters running (and built them a fancy new ship). Tory is the aide and advisor to President Roslin. Anders was the emotional support for Starbuck and source of morale for all the Caprican resistance fighters.

Meanwhile, the human-looking Cylon models we’re more familiar with — Boomer, Athena, Caprica Six — are, roughly, nephilim or fallen angels. Things get a little confused here, both for the metaphor and for the actual angelology, but a nephil is a creature (a giant, often) born of lusty fallen angels and human women, so this doesn’t quite work. (This would make Cally’s child and Hera the nephilim, if they are the offspring of fallen angels — Cylons — and humans.)

The point is that, in a lot of the early Jewish and Zoroastrian folklore surrounding these beings, they are drawn to Earth to mate with humans, just like the Cylons. This isn’t an exact fit, but of course neither is the idea of Exodus being instigated by a nuclear attack by a bunch of rebellious robots.

The Final Five models might be seen as the Grigori (the “Watchers,” hence the Dylan song chosen for this weekend’s episode), who were arguably the fathers of the nephilim and are fallen angels themselves, sent to watch over humans but swept up in human feelings and lust. The Grigori aren’t typically guardians and allies, like seraphim, though. Again, the analogy is rough.

Alternately, if we assume that the seven seemingly villainous Cylons really are doing the work of their god — that even though they are antagonizing mankind, they are not evil — then those seven models may be the seven archangels. The Final Five, of whom the seven do not speak, may be the fallen angels.

Or it may all just be parts of this angelology reorganized into new structures. It doesn’t have to jive with any of the Apocrypha any more than the show jives neatly with current politics (it doesn’t). Rather, it just echoes familiar things, with a bunch of distortion. But if Roslin (or Roslin and Adama together) is Moses, and the Twelve Colonies are (duh) the Twelve Tribes, then all this early angelology seems appropriate.

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Still Lost

March 22, 2007

Dear Internet People Who Think Lost Isn’t So Good This Season,

Fuck you. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Love,
The Management