Yuletide

Sep. 2nd, 2016 08:57 pm
donutsweeper: (a captain)
I wrote this up for the pimping post, but I figure I'll put it here too.

This year I'll be nominating Longstreet, a tv show from the early 70s starring James Franciscus as insurance investigator Mike Longstreet who was blinded in the explosion that killed his wife. Despite the qualms of his friend and boss, Duke Paige, Mike insists on continuing his work with the aide of his guide dog, Pax and assistant Nikki Bell.

The show is somewhat famous due to Bruce Lee's guest starring role as Li Tsung who, after saving Mike from a beating in the first episode, teaches Mike how to defend himself using Jeet Kune Do (in fact, this is the title of the first episode, "The Way of the Intercepting Fist").

Why you might like it: Do you like stories of people succeeding despite adversity? What about characters who learn to rely on others? Adorable guide dogs? 70's clothing and a lot of jazz? Then this show is for you!

Where you can find it: Unfortunately the series isn't available on DVD in most places but, for the moment anyway, it is available on youtube here.
donutsweeper: (a captain)
I can't figure out how to just post the video here, but follow this link to the most adorable set of panda cubs and their perpetual attempts to prevent their keeper from raking up leaves in their enclosure. (Actually, also just check out the entire Great Panda Conspiracy facebook page, it's guaranteed to make you smile.)

Person of Interest had its series finale this week and I was happily surprised how well it went out. Yes, there was death (which I totally expected) but entirely truly in character and for plot reasons. Overall, I'm very happy with how the show spent its last season and the arc it gave its characters.

Wynonna Earp also finished its season (possibly series, neither renewal nor cancellation has been announced) and I was pretty content with everything it chose to do until the last 60 seconds or so when it decided to go the 'OMG SURPRISE UNEXPECTED TWIST' as their ending. Which, blargh. I still recommend it as a show, but those few seconds really soured my overall love of the show.

Preacher began on AMC a few weeks ago. It's free to watch via the AMC app (no log in necessary, but it's probably region-locked). Dominic Cooper (aka CA:TFA's Howard Stark) is AMAZING in it and Ruth Negga is incredibly kickass. It's based off a comic (which I know nothing about). To sort of sum it up Dominic plays Jesse, a small town Texan preacher with a sordid past, Ruth plays Tulip, his former partner who wants to drag him back into the life (of crime? off-book political stuff? it's unclear) and Joseph Gilgun is Cassidy, an Irish vampire who literally drops into town shortly before some weird/alien/supernatural thing crashes into Jesse and gives him powers. It's more convoluted than that? No real idea where the show is going but the cast is amazing and it definitely has going for it the fact this is something I haven't seen before a million times.

Been watching a lot of football (soccer) here between Copa America (how did the US make it to the semi's? How?) and Euro 2016 but thankfully there haven't been too many bad calls so the animals haven't been awoken by my yelling at the refs. (Because we all know how loudly you yell at the refs for making a terrible call, the better they're later calls will be. Or something.)

What's my flist up to these days?
donutsweeper: (a captain)
As more shows start to wrap up, it's time for more death!! (Erm, yay?) In this case, a recurring and a starring character on the same show, Spoiler ). Neither felt like they were there for shock value or due to slopping writing, so at least there's that.

Damien, Limitless and Agent Carter have all been officially canceled. I'm not overly broken up over the news, but all were decent TV so it is sad making. (If it ever makes it to netflix and you're bored and looking to binge watch something that's not to deep or dramatic I would recommend Limitless. I'll probably rewatch it that way one of these days.)

Currently I'm watching "Houdini and Doyle" which is so much better then the idea of Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle and Scotland Yard's only female constable joining forces to investigate weird crimes has any right to be. It's a UK/US/Canada production so available in a lot of places (in the US, we're about 2/3rds through the 10 episode series but I think it finished airing in the UK already) and if you think you might like a slightly silly, Victorian Mystery series that's decently acted and written and doesn't rely on gruesomeness to move the plot along, it may be for you.

I'll also recommend Syfy's "Wyonna Earp," which is also about 2/3rds through it's run of 13 episodes. I guess I'd summarize it as 'Supernatural' if done with sisters as the leads instead of brothers with a family curse (started by their famous ancestor, Wyatt Earp) that involves killing demons, an FBI "Black Badge" division agent who knows about it, and a mysterious stranger who seems to as well. Oh, and as of last episode, super vague relationship spoiler ). I'm not entirely sure where the show is planning to go or how it'll get there, but so far I'm enjoying the journey.

Found this via [livejournal.com profile] little_details regarding telling time in the Middle Ages- basically hours as we think of them today didn't exist and minutes didn't at all. Slightly younger me is fist-pumping for her annoyance when the Sheriff in "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" orders women to his bedroom at X time and then X:15 ("and bring a friend") because I'd been pretty sure that kind of timekeeping was impossible back then. Because, yes, that was the only thing historically incorrect in that movie (insert rolling eye smiley face here.)
donutsweeper: (a captain)
So three more shows have had their season finales and, oddly enough, the multiverse did not get destroyed, the earth did not get nuked into Armageddon and the sun did not go supernova. Shocker, right?

I am just... weary of tptb's need to have these big, huge, OMG kind of finales where we know the heroes will battle valiantly, appear to be losing, but then in the end, be triumphant. Because, of late, they put no effort into the storyline other the will they/won't they win aspect and, to be frank, that's a given. To quote the Tick (the cartoon, which, OMG, is on youtube now, brb see you in a few days while I rewatch) "You can't destroy the Earth, that's where I keep all my stuff!" So, the chance that the US/world/universe/multiverse is destroyed? Absolutely not existent.

The thing is, you can write a decent season finale where the heroes are in mortal peril and even though we the viewer know that they're going to somehow survive the insurmountable odds, it's still a good story. Let me tell you about the one with the killer ants. Yes, you read that correctly. There was a show where our heroes™ were menaced by KILLER ANTS. Now, I will readily admit that the 2000 syndicated tv show Sheena, set in the madeupia part of the African jungle, was not what most folks would qualify as a good show. But it knew that. It couldn't afford amazing sets or effects or anything and it knew that too. It did, however, understand you could have a ridiculous, life threatening premise of a storyline but, if you focused on the characters and how they dealt with it, TELL A GOOD STORY. I had the killer ants episode on VHS and watched it a ton of times. Did I ever think the ants would ever kill and eat them? No. Did I think the premise was ridiculous? Kind of, yeah. But so did they. Yet still there managed to be tension (he was sick and fading fast, she usually saved everyone no problem but this time hadn't been able to do that) and character growth (they learned things about each other's backstories and got closer) and there were some sweet scenes and overall, it was just a decent episode to watch.

I can't remember the last time I felt that way about a modern 'omg will they survive' kind of episode of a show. Nowadays, it seems like they spend all their time and effort on just the 'will they survive' part, and, since that's a given 99% of the time, there's no tension to it and the whole thing just winds up being unsatisfying. I think that's one of the reasons I miss the old mystery/case/monster/whatever-of-the-week style of story telling. Season after season of that can get tiring, and it's too easy for them to ignore character development and character growth, but at least there's the chance of failure and unexpected outcome.

SIGH. Come on, fandoms, step up to the plate. Show me what you can do.
donutsweeper: (a captain)
So in the TV shows I watch there have been two more deaths (one main, one multi-seasons recurring) and one we-were-supposed-to-think-is-dead-but-didn't who was revealed to be alive. Sadly, none made an impact on me at all. Honestly, out of all the characters that were killed off in the tail end of this season (and WOW there have been a lot), I don't think a single one got me teary eyed. I'm not sure I could even name them all.

To be fair, some shows, like Damien, sort of set themselves up with the idea of killing off someone every episode, which did not help the overall death count but even so... there HAS to be some way for tptb to write *tension* and *drama* without offing people right and left.

(Humorously, the NCIS:LA finale came and went without me noticing, to some extent because it was earlier than usual due to PoI's return but also because while it had the 'family member in danger trope' no one died so I guess I didn't realize it meant it was the season's ending episode. To be fair, the trope was badly done and I in no way thought the person was in any actual danger.)

I discovered this the other day- the #EmptyCupAwards



which were set up to acknowledge that while real coffee cups can be heavy, sloshy, and full of hot, potentially heavy liquids, the ones we see on TV are nearly always just filled with hot air and that would be fine except almost no one puts any effort into acting like that's not the case. This has been a pet peeve of mine for YEARS. It's so nice to see it getting some attention.

(Yes, I realize it's completely unrealistic to actually try to film the scenes with liquid in the cup, they can't risk it'll spill and the set/wardrobe/makeup/whatever gets damaged and the take gets ruined, but either teaching people to act like there's something in the cup or gluing in some beans/sand/weight of some kind would help matters greatly. Every time someone is shown holding one of those 4 cup coffee holder things they're always doing so with only one hand and it is so utterly jarring it's ridiculous.)

Several more of my shows have finales this week. Whee. Wonder how many more characters will get killed off.
donutsweeper: (a captain)
Continuing the lazy (I mean, *ahem* surprising and powerful) writing of TV these days four characters were killed off on shows I watched Monday and Tuesday. Is it sad that I'm only surprised that there were characters killed in only 3 of the 5 shows?

Of the deaths, the best (least awful?) written one was sadly completely unsurprising and I had assumed was coming. One death was off screen and poorly done, one a *sigh you have to be kidding me* kind of thing (although, I guess it's possible the person isn't dead) and the last had a totally ridiculous deathbed confession addition to it that went entirely against previously established canon.

The deaths happened in spoilers for names of shows (characters not named) ).

*sigh*
donutsweeper: (a captain)
I finally got a chance to see it today. I'm not going to harsh anyone's squee so all I'll say is that it was not the movie I wanted it to be, nor will it provide the jump back into fannish excitement about something (anything) that I was hoping for.

Well, that and COME ON, they couldn't figure out a way to totally minor tiny nothing of a spoiler )?
donutsweeper: (a captain)
I recently binge watched Da Vinci's Demons (which, confusedly, is not about demons at all) and despite it's historical inaccuracies I really liked it. Definitely going for it was that despite being a premium cable show it never went for gratuitous nudity/sex/violence/etc (yes, there was some, but it mostly made sense plot-wise and never felt tacked on to shock or whatever like in most shows) but there was one scene that made me SUPER HAPPY.

The show revolves around Leonardo da Vinci (unsurprisingly) and focuses on him and his friends becoming involved in political intrigue (Medicis/Catholic Church/Pazzis/Ottoman empire stuff) and inventing a ton of stuff as a result with a cult or two and a prophecy thrown in. Anyway, for the scene in question Leonardo has uncovered a book someone died to try to hide and wants to learn more about it so he goes to his friend because "your Hebrew is better than mine," he explains as he hands it over. And the friend takes the book and proceeds to open it from the left (what you'd consider the back if looking at a book printed in English) and begins to page through it.

I get this is a minor thing and most people wouldn't notice it at all but HE OPENED THE BOOK THE CORRECT WAY. Hebrew is printed left to right instead of right to left like most European languages and the books go in that direction as well- the first page is what would be the last page in other languages. Someone involved in the show (writer, director, actor, who knows) had the foresight to stop and think about the fact that a book published in a different language might be read a different way instead of just assuming it'd open and be read the way most other books are.

Such a minor thing. Yet so important. And it made me just so ridiculously happy.
donutsweeper: (a captain)
Except on tv when it's just death, death and more death (and often fake death and presumed death and 'oh look it was death but now they're back' death, etc.) Add in some rape, extreme violence and nudity and writers' and producers' smile, with the idea of the big ratings these 'can't miss' episodes will bring.

I've watched soap operas on and off for YEARS. Decades even. And they use those kind of plots a lot to drive up ratings and propel the story along. In fact, the very first time I every remember watching an episode of a soap someone died. I was a little kid, home sick from school unsupervised, so of course has taken the opportunity to spend some time with the usually highly relegated boobtub.

Hero and villain were fighting and the bad guy won and shot the good guy, who fell off a cliff and onto the beach below where he managed to die heroically in his brother's arms right after telling the brother everything he'd need to go save their lady loves from the evil guy's clutches. Later, after saving the women, brother returned to collect the body only to find the beach empty, the hero presumedly having been washed to sea.

Now, I may have been a kid, but I was a cynical little thing and I still vividly remember thinking how oddly convenient it was that the body was missing. In news that will surprise no one, it turned out I was right and several years later hero returned to town as an amnesiac. (Because this was a soap, a decade or so after the return it was revealed the now-remembered-everything-not-dead-hero was actually not the actual hero, but someone brainwashed to think he was and actual hero actually returned, but that's neither here nor there.)

I'm not sure if it's a result of that or just my general cynical nature, but deaths and other big events often don't have the impact on me that they're supposed to. Sometimes I find that instead of crying I just feel used or annoyed, that tptb were jerking us around and trying to play with our emotions but taking the easy way out and going for the wrenching drama/shock/surprise vs taking the time to craft and build true emotions and heartfelt response.

From Wednesday to Monday in five shows there were four main characters killed, one who came back from the dead, one raped, one who committed rape, one dismembered and one who betrayed another. I know the various episodes were supposed to feel dramatic or something, but all I can think is 'huh, must be sweeps month.' (The fandoms, btw, were Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, SPN, Grimm and The Magicians.)

I don't thinks it's a result of sexism, racism or homophobia or anything like that. It's just laziness and taking the easy way out and it is just so frustrating. Come on writers, you can do better than this.
donutsweeper: (capt salute)
I've been meaning to do a post on the 15 minute rule for a while but life kept getting in the way. Basically, the 15 minute rule is the idea that a movie has the first 15 minutes (or a book has the first few chapters, or a TV show the pilot episode) to set the rules for its universe. For example: Modern day setting except there are superheroes/secret agency that fight the Big Bad! Or, ancient Britons with magic and dragons! Or, huge robots that fight huge monsters! Sometimes, it doesn't even need that long to set up its 15 minute rule- think about the Gilligan's Island theme song (or Brady Bunch's, etc) or the VO introduction to Pacific Rim or Sleepy Hollow.

not that long, but cut to save flists )

Dramatic license will always give tptb wiggle room, sometimes I just wish they understood the difference between a little leeway and outright disregard for the world they themselves created.

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