skywaterblue: (Default)
Vikings, a History Channel (yes, really) drama that loosely adapt the Ragnar Lothbrok legend for American audiences is a show that shouldn't work for American audiences. There is no brook given for the Viking culture: characters fervently believe in the Gods of the Aesir and willingly participate in human sacrifice without moralizing judgement. Characters rape and plunder, they slaughter Christian priests with abandon and you hope they pull it off. One woman serves as a shield-maid while the other is a high noble's wife; no one in the Earldom finds either role exceptional enough to comment on the differences in their choices, and Ragnar's right-hand man Floki is an inventor and wiseman who appears to be a priest of Loki at the bare minimum.

Very little explanation is given to fill the audience in; you either sink or swim and every episode produces a little alien shock as you get thrust into a cultural situation played out in full by the rules of the Viking world. Characters die frequently on the battlefield, and from illness and mishaps. They make choices no modern human would make, see the Gods in trees and despite this, are surprisingly magnetic.

It is also surprisingly pacey, even for a nine-episode first season. Each three episodes roughly become their own arc, the first being about a plan Ragnar has hatched with Floki to navigate to "the West" - England, a previously unaccomplished goal which the Earl they have sword fielty to has expressly forbidden.

I also want to give special notice to Travis Fimmel as the lead; a former underwear model, he is the dead-sexy kind of lead that I usually associate as being chosen for empty eyed beefcake rather than lead performance. He's actually shockingly, stunningly good at keeping Ragnar from devolving into either pure Magnificent Bastard territory or Woobieism. He's both a man oozing with daring ambition, a good family man, and at once perfectly aligned with his culture. You can't trust him for a minute, but you sure would like to...
skywaterblue: (adventuring in time and space)
The Korra clips are quite magical. They made me feel things. I'm also pleased that Mad Men and (somewhat less anticipatory) glad that Game of Thrones will be resuming the same week in March. Apparently "Mad Men" is pulling the two-hour television movie trick for the premier episode and I have no doubt that Weiner can pull off a great example of this storied TV trick. Anticipation level is high!

---

I am mildly enjoying "Portlandia" through the power of Netflix. Fred Armison's female characters creep me the hell out, though. I get that a sketch comedy show with a male-female duo can't have the girl playing the girls all the time, but... yeah, IDK. I've never much cared for him, though his Obama on SNL did grow on me with time. Also, it's weird to remember he was married to Zoey Bartlet/Peggy Olson for a white hot minute.

---

I am mostly really enjoying Kelsey Grammar's "Boss" which is rare because I don't often like television shows set in the city I live in. I feel like "Boss" uses its Chicago setting to its advantage though, possibly because Grammar's character has the habit of glorifying past mayors at the drop of a hat... which is a trait of his particularly highlighted by one of the straight up most beautiful shots I've seen in a pilot. Also, it helps that it genuinely feels like Chicago even in the interiors, rather than the obvious on-location shots.

Grammar's character owes a lot to the Daley fil, and a whole heaping to Jed Bartlet. As someone who has never found Bartlet to be as particularly... munificent as claimed by both show and fandom, I find this take on evil!Bartlet to be fascinating.

It's a shame then, that three episodes in, I don't find any of the supporting cast to be nearly so interesting - with an exception made for Kane's icy blonde assistant, and the young eager DA.

In conclusion, I'd really like to PA on this show or appear as an extra. However, I'm only on episode three and I have NO IDEA how they continue to stretch this show out longer than another season or two.

Reviews:

May. 24th, 2011 06:42 pm
skywaterblue: (amy and rory wedding)
Reviewing media things is the only thing I'm doing with this journal lately. Still. Let's go.

1. Pirates Four )

2. Doctor Who was good this week, but you should never review them until the second part. Sure, it's mostly a hash of a bunch of different science fiction stories, but if you must rip, rip shamelessly and from the best. There's some subtle character choices and at least one really nice scare. Looking forward to the next part. Gulp. Almost at that season divide already?

3. This week's Game of Thrones was the best one yet! Script by Jane Esperson. Of course. Golden Crown )

4. A little fandom wank: Joshua Malina, of Sports Night and Will Bailey fame, apparently made a fake Bradley Whitford twitter account tonight and has spent the day trolling gullible fans. Which is a terrible thing to do, no less to spoof a divorced father of three by following NAMBLA and joking about his ex-wife. Yo dude, there's a line, and it was WAY THE FUCK BACK THERE. Also, dude, you're not a good enough actor for me to find that funny and if I were involved in hiring you, you wouldn't be.

5. Speaking of, Bradley Whitford has some serious alimony issues or something because he's been on three guest spots in less than a week. I always look forward to seeing him on TV and the first two roles were awesome, but he could do a lot better than Slimy Defense Lawyer of the Week on a Law and Order Spinoff.
skywaterblue: (neil gaiman would unhappen so much)
1. NBC passed on the Wonder Woman pilot.

The only sensible response to this is 'thank merciful fuck'. The other I am stealing outright from scans_daily: Greg Rucka went to all that trouble to write Xena + West Wing and no one could figure out the angle on this show?

2. NBC also has passed on the BSG supernatural cops show.

My thought eternally: 'So Ron Moore's free to write the Pern movie NOW, right?' In all seriousness, it sounded like hash, but maybe the pilot will leak so I can take a look for myself.

3. So, last week's Doctor Who stunk the joint up, hm?

Nothing to add. Next week: NEIL GAIMAN DOCTOR WHO TIEM. ZOMG TIMES A MILLION. Anyone who ruins it for me will die.

4. Game of Thrones Episode Four:

I find that I like the added scenes more than the adapted scenes. They have the quality of good fanfiction, in that they're trying to add something that would otherwise be lost in the margins. For the most part, though, I find myself enjoying individual scenes, then looking at my watch and sighing. Maybe it'll get better for me next week, as early reviews tipped episode five as the best of the ones on the screener DVD, and it also happens to be inching in the margins of where I stopped reading.

And I was really into the last fifteen minutes.
skywaterblue: (amy and rory wedding)
1. I am reading Game of Thrones, but very very slowly. It's not that interesting to me and often I will read one chapter and be like 'that was great' and then the very next chapter will have me saying 'and that was complete shit'. I think this may be one of those books where if I was LESS well-read in the genre I would be more impressed, because mainly what I keep thinking is that it's basically a Very Good YA Novel. I think many of the books fans would choose to object to me and say 'but you can't do that and that in a YA book' and a. that isn't true now and b. wasn't that true back then either.

These aren't really spoilers, but I'm cutting for length. )

2. I am sorry to say I thought the pilot episode for the Game of Thrones TV show to be poorly done. Very adapted by the numbers. One of the big problems with adapting this show is that all of the book is written via the perspective of a character. And that character (at least at the point of the book I'm in) is an obvious authorial stand-in. They observe which characters are evil slimy bastards and the narrating character is So Obviously Correct About It. And a lot of times I find that decision authorially boring. Like, wouldn't it be way more interesting to see that wedding from the eyes of Dany's brother?

This runs into even more problems in the TV show, which has some appallingly poor edits in the pilot that break up any tension the scene was developing. More than the info dumping, what the producers of this show need to develop is a sense of POV perspective when they write and film these scenes to match (or alter) the book.

It's not like the author's great skill is in dialogue here. There's some witty lines but it's not Mamet or anything, guys. (And tragically, the script and directing fucking /dumps/ all over what wit was in the book to begin with leaving the actors stepping all over the good lines.)

So anyway. It's got some problems besides its issue with the male gaze (inherited from the book) and awkward Race pony people.

Flat, flat, flat. Moments in the book imbued with great foreshadowing importance or drama are rendered inert and the problems clearly lie in the screenwriting and later overall direction. It can only improve, one hopes.

3. Doctor Who, "The Impossible Astronaut".

So much fucking better than the pilot episode of Game of Thrones for one clarifying reason: Steven Moffat understands how to navigate the audience/character POV perspective in television. In fact, there's no one in screenwriting I can think of right now who does this better than he does.

Go back through and watch this episode. Is River Song indeed, finally as sympathetic to the audience as the reviewers claim? (I think the answer is yes, but I was never against her from the start.) Why? Go back and watch this episode again - how many of the scenes are being expressly written from River's Point of View. The answer: almost the entire episode.

More about this and other things I liked: )

Anyway, I thought this episode of Doctor Who was structurally fabulous from top to bottom with everyone from the main cast giving a perfect performance. Great television.
skywaterblue: (dalek love)
1. So you all heard the news that Aaron Sorkin's new pundit show is going to HBO, right?

I deleted a long post about how I wanted Richard Schiff to be in it (he's the perfect temperament to be Keith Olbermann. Sorry Bradley, you know I love you.) And if he's in it, I want Janel Moloney to be in it because, though they don't have many scenes together, ever scene between Toby and Donna has an interesting frisson. She could be his producer, perhaps.

Well, I scrapped it because I thought The Schiff would be too busy with the Criminal Minds spinoff. Then I checked his wikipedia last night and it's only recurring so: DREAM CASTING BACK ON.

2. And then they day after that, Keith Olbermann got quitfired from MSNBC.

Bringing the ripe speculation that since everyone knows the new Sorkin show is about Olbermann, maybe he's going to staff it? And the great Sorkin-MSNBC connection goes full circle.

And yes, if you haven't seen the video: Olbermann did reference Network in his live-to-the-nation I QUIT message.

In less optimistic news, I and most American progressives are now concerned about the consequences, as he single-handedly brought MSNBC around from a third tier network, to second place and voice of the Democratic party combating Fox.

3. Being Human US edition

Not much to say, except I think I liked it a little more than the current UK cast. (I never got over when they recast the vampires.) I'll keep watching.

4. Lost Girl

I gather that lots of people on my friend's list love this show, so I gave it a try and downloaded the first season. It is a Canadian fantasy drama in the tradition of Highlander. (I keep thinking of it as Girl Highlander.)

Five episodes in and it's MY FAVORITE THING SINCE SLICED CRACK. It's the story of a bisexual succubus named Bo who grew up without knowing she was a member of the Fae, and her teenaged pickpocket runaway. They solve crime! Every episode passes the Bechdel test!

It has a bit of an Anita Blake meets Buffy vibe, to be honest, as Kenzi the teenager uses a lot of internet slang. (She described Bo as 'in lurve' with another character.) There's a free hand about the sex - after all, the main character needs it to live. Rather than drag it out, the intended OTP have been shagging since the second episode and the barriers to getting together in happiness seem to be: 1. Fae politics and 2. nigh immortality.

And like all great science fiction/fantasy dramas, there's a wise Bartender up to more than he seems.
skywaterblue: (neil gaiman would unhappen so much)
Hollywood Reporter says that the inevitable Sandman TV show is going to be written by Eric Kripke of Supernatural.

I swear to God, I read this on Twitter in class and I actually did vomit in my mouth a little. Iced mocha latte, not so good on the second time, but not as vile as some other things it could have been.

I am this close to starting a protest website. I don't live in a universe where Death and Delirium of the Endless get written by this guy. I don't want to share a fandom with Supernatural. In fact, my life exists avoiding Supernatural. Ugh ugh ugh.

I don't think I've been so upset about a fandom thing since the 'Golden Compass' movie.
skywaterblue: (highlander)
Did I not post about Mad Men 4.3 last week? That one was really amazing and had me on the edge of my seat. By contrast, this week's had a bunch of important plot stuff that I couldn't really get worked up about...

More specifics. )

Oh, and Rubicon was on. I think I skipped a week, maybe? This week's was pretty awesome because it was more about the nutty analysts having to decide whether to kill a guy based on sketch intellegence and less about the crappy metaplot which even Miranda Richardson cannot save. As I said on Twitter, show would be awesome if it were more 'West Wing with spies' and less whatever the fuck with this conspiracy plot.

I heard they fired the head writer and retooled it after this episode, so that's interesting?
skywaterblue: (pornjosh)
I bah-leeted a long thing about Inception that basically summed up some stuff. Non-spoilery: it's still a great film, but I probably won't see it a third time and I won't recommend anyone go who has suicide 'issues' as it's really quite triggery. I thought I was good, but both times I saw it I spent the next day feeling rather awful, so yeah.

I'm convinced... )

ANYWAY.

Mad Men 4.2: Spoilers )

Rubicon 1.2: Um, it was on before 'Mad Men' and 'Sherlock' wasn't done downloading? Actually, the second episode is vastly better than the first one. The spycraft is still dumb as shit - I hate it when I've read the same reference material as the show's writing staff? But the main character's team consists of a mixed sort of pathological wastes, all of whom seem borderline Aspergers and they get a lot more fleshed out this week. They must be asking them to make this acting choice, because even the wizened old salt who the main character is going to for help with the arc plot seems messed in the head.

I approve. They're way more entertaining than the arc plot, though that too is getting fun now that Miranda Richardson actually has scenes?

West Wing Season 7: It occurs to me that all my first reaction posts to that are now buried in Friends lock. I'm sure they're embarrassing to reread so I won't unlock them. I've been going through this season again on DVD, and as far as I recall my reactions to the episodes NOW are basically the same as they were then. Though I think I remember liking the Debate at the time but now I'm firmly in the 'no, that breaks the rules of the show AND it sucked' camp.

If you want to read me bitch and moan about it, I've been spamming Twitter.
skywaterblue: (pornjosh)
First, Mad Men 4.1: Some thoughts. )

Interesting start to the season. Not entirely clear what the season's themes are, but I only watched it once.

Rubicon

This is the new show that AMC is pushing hard to air after Mad Men. It's your basic LeCarre-esque espionage saga with a heavy dose of 'this has a series mystery'.

The problem is that the pilot episode deals so heavily in tropes - there's a message hidden in the crossword which starts a chain of assassinations, the head boss is clearly a double spy, and the main character is supposed to be a genius analyst. Yet when his boss gets killed despite leaving him a not at all cryptic message about what train he was going to be on and a motorcycle encouraging him to leave, and then creepy boss offers him old boss's job at the funeral, main character suspects nothing.

I'm spoiled by Garak. If anyone had killed one of Garak's associates in a 'train accident' after they left him keys to a shuttlecraft and a cryptic message, he would have been on to it like scales on Cardassians.

What I'm saying is this: Spy Dramas? The ONE PLACE it's okay for your character to have 'genre savvyness' as a trait. Because that's THEIR FUCKING JOB.

Also, the writers maxed out the main character's manpain attribute: his wife and kids DIED IN 9/11.

Skip skip skip.

Inception: Too complex to really review after only seeing it once. At a certain point in the movie there are at least five layers of story you have to be keeping track of, and while I'm pretty sure I know what happened, jeez.

I actually don't think it was as meaningful a meditation on the act of filmmaking as the Prestige is, but I'd have to see it a second time.

The special effects are really astonishing, though, and I didn't even hate Leo DiCaprio that much... even though I never am able to watch a film with him in it without thinking 'that's Leo DiCaprio'. I understand why people think this indicates he's Old Hollywood Like That, I just find it fucking annoying in 2010.

OH: The real astonishing bit is how good Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in this film. I bought him completely as an action hero. I would love to see some more movies with him as the lead. The end.

Sherlock 1.1: WHOA THERE. It's awesome and hella slashy. I love the way they use mobile phones in this - probably the most natural use of phones I've seen in anything in some time.

Mainly I want to say this:

BENEDICT CUMBERPATCH IS THE PERFECT CASTING FOR DREAM OF THE ENDLESS

MOFF, GAIMAN: STICK SOME BLACK CONTACTS ON IT AND GETTER DONE BEFORE HE'S TOO OLD.
skywaterblue: (the universe was waiting)
Finally found time to watch this. I wasn't going to cut it, but it turned out longish...

There's no spoilers: Hamlet dies at the end. )

In conclusion: I enjoyed watching it, didn't pause it to pee break or anything so it moved at a good pace and kept me involved. I think I like the modern dress Hamlet in 'Slings and Arrows' a little better? I hope no one from the RSC reads this and is insulted by that, because c'mon, 'Slings and Arrows' is a tough act to follow.
skywaterblue: (the universe was waiting)


TERRIBLY AWESOME, YOU MEAN. No. Actually it looks bad, but fun bad. (grabs popcorn)
skywaterblue: (Default)
I finally watched the last two episodes of this last night, out of duty. Eh. I sort of resent the decision to make this a serious drama rather than wacky hijinx with your monster flatmates. Making it a drama brings up the inevitable comparisons to Buffy, and Being Human looks particularly poor in comparison because the big threat is on BBC budget and ... yeah. Just didn't believe that Bristol was in the slightest danger of becoming overrun with vampires.

More spoilers )
skywaterblue: (Revolution Will Not Be Televised)
Guys. If this isn't the best new TV show of 2009, then there is no justice and mercy in the world. That's how much I liked "Kings". Please, please, o' merciful lady of the airwaves, let this be a big hit so that I can watch it forever. Please let the follow-up episodes be just as good as this.

The Minor Fall and the Major Lift )

I need to watch this again.
skywaterblue: (katamari obama)
1. Battlestar Galactica

Hmph. )

Dollhouse: I will keep watching this. I have always liked Eliza Dushku, and the pilot is not NEARLY as big a mess as I was led to believe. Plus I genuinely am not really sure what will happen in the next episodes at this point.

Being Human: Ugh. Wish they hadn't brought this back. The new cast is mostly serviceable, but they're less solid actors than the ones in the one-off pilot and next to them, Russel Tovey's general crappy whining as the main character is even more grating than in the original. Plus, I feel like the show has betrayed a lot of the refreshing originality by having the ghost and the vampire spend more of the episode whining about being monsters. Meh, I tell you, meh. Now it's every dumb urban fantasy with vampires ever. Fuck that noise.
skywaterblue: (Revolution Will Not Be Televised)
Anyway. I tried yesterday and today to find a job, and came up completely blank. It was pretty demoralizing and reminded me of why I stopped looking over Christmas. I also tried to file for unemployment like five times, and the phone line has been non stop busy. (And the web machine is down.)

Anyway. Bummed out, but one of the classes I want to take came open (political philosophy, why yes, I would like to read and write papers on Mill and Rousseau) and I emailed the professor for the other one, which is screenwriting. I hope I get in, and then I further hope it isn't one of those cases where I beg to get in and then hate the professor and loathe myself for a whole three months.

My sister's birthday party is tonight. I guess I should do some laundry and take a shower.

Because I was so depressed about the job search last night, I finished the last four episodes of Party Animals. I was saddened to find out that even though the writing was completely tight like a telanovela, and it mostly wraps up, they leave some of the storylines lax in one of those 'tune in next season' deals.

More spoilery thoughts. )
skywaterblue: (adventuring in time and space)
I am rationing the Party Animals to two episodes a night. It's too good. It's like Gossip Girl made babies with the West Wing - Aaron Sorkin cries at night and wishes he could show people actually fucking and snorting lines of coke on broadcast television.

The best thing about the new Doctor is that someone might write fanfic about this show.
skywaterblue: (hate this hacker shit (teh_indy))
Every time Law and Order comes on downstairs (for my mother's going through a major thing), I rush down to see if this is one of the magical, magical Jeff Goldblum episodes I have been promised. And it never is. I was starting to pick up a sulk about this. I was promised Jeff Goldblum, dammit, where's Jeff Goldblum?

Then I wikied it and it turns out he doesn't start until February.

Oh.

In other TV news, apparently Nip/Tuck's season 5.2 started tonight. In a sign of how completely I've broken up with that show, I didn't know until an hour before and then didn't watch. I wish Pretty/Handsome had been picked up... but I guess Joseph Fiennes is in the Flashforward pilot so... like yeah.
skywaterblue: (Revolution Will Not Be Televised)


... what is this amazing fresh thingy? ON NBC? IAN MCSHANE. I'm sort of not okay with them trying to make the story of David straight (but maybe it's gayer once you watch?)

WHATEVER IAN MCSHANE IS GOING TO BE IN AN EVIL TECHNOCRATIC BIBLE THINGY. THE INTERNET HAS FAILED ME IN NOT INFORMING ME OF THIS EARLIER. FAIL.

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