Legends (in their own minds) of Tomorrow

The Legends of Tomorrow pilot attempted to hit every tired old trope in the book. It was as though someone pulled down a trunk from their attic full of clichéd plot points that one must shove into a pilot otherwise, ‘emegherd, we’ll have to actually tell a story, and those impatient viewers won’t stick around’ (because someone somewhere said so) … and shoved them all into the pilot.

The whole thing felt like they were trying too hard.

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If you haven’t seen it yet and you going to, (I’m going to watch a few more episodes in ‘wait-and-see’ mode) … this is your five second warning …

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Time lord/captain/master bloke is all vengeful ‘cos the bad guy murdered his wife and kid – tick.

Time lord/captain/master emotes by swirling his long coat and speaks in staccato bursts of expository dialogue, and twitches a lot – tick.

Bad guy is evil, but also evil because of jealousy – tick. How many bad guys have been set off on their path to the dark side (including the original Dark Side guy) because some darn woman done him wrong?!!! (hell, Padme even died in childbirth, a double whammy)

The hawkish couple who aren’t sure they’re a couple (and the actors have even less of a clue) are motivated by the death of a child too – tick.

A couple’a do-good-dudes want to achieve more than footnote status in history – tick.

Jaded criminals ‘ain’t got nuthin’ better to do’ – tick.

The list goes on, and on.

As pilots go it wasn’t terrible …

And I’m sure hope that as the season goes on the show will hit its stride, much like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did.

I think shows like Sense8, Daredevil, The BlacklistJessica Jones, House of Cards, have shown that you don’t have to throw everything at the audience in the first episode for the show to work, especially if you already have an audience willing to go the distance or at least willing to give the show a chance, already built in, as these shows that are part of greater film and TV universes do.

… it just could’ve been a lot better.

However, White Canary busting up a 1975 bar was worth the wait. 🙂

 

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The Moment ‘Jessica Jones’ Fell From The Sky

Three moments actually.

Thar be spoiler-dragons ahead, Mateys …

 

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Are we alone yet?

 

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Jessica Jones (the Netflix series)   is a Marvel superhero story that’s hard to watch. It doesn’t hesitate to get right down into the sewer sludge. It’s too sludgy for me to watch more than one episode at a time. It is compelling though, and I’m going to continue to the end of the thirteen episodes, because in it’s own way it pushes the viewer to engage with more than just a shiny superhero defeating a wisecracking supervillain just as Mark Watney surviving everything Mars could throw at him, (in The Martian) pushed the viewer to engage with a grand space opera for grownups.

And it seems that lately, I’m pushing at most of my nice comfy boundaries. Writing stories that are going to places that are rough and awkward and uneasy. This is a good thing for the writer, not so good for the person who’s invested a great deal of time and energy in sidestepping those unnerving boundaries.

Back to Jessica Jones.

The first two moments were, in me ‘umble opinion, character inconsistencies, and the third one was a giant world building or plot one.

First Jessica tracked Kilgrave to a penthouse and she had him dead to rights and didn’t take the opportunity to kill him.

Second one. After Jessica and Co drug Kilgrave and she had him unconscious in the back of a truck, again she didn’t kill him. This is the obscene abuser who subjected her to indescribable humiliations.

The character has been built up over several episodes now to understand in horrific detail how the nasty slithery side of life operates. She knows what Kilgrave can do, what he is capable of. That no matter what she does, the innocent young woman that Kilgrave forced to shoot her parents will never be free of her past. (I know, if she had killed him then there wouldn’t be any more episodes, but that’s another story for another time)

So, Jessica hesitates to kill him, twice. I understand PTSD, intimately, and I know how it can immobilise you, but Jessica has been portrayed as someone who pushes through that, who embraces the dark. These two character inconsistencies threw me out of the story, and as any writer will tell you, if something throws the reader out of a story then you’re doing it wrong.

The final thing was the scene in the police station squad room in Episode 7

Kilgrave had the cops frozen in the act of firing on one and another, in order to force Jessica to do what he wants. He removed any videos, log entries, etc, from their computers, and the severed head (yep, severed head) and told the cops that in 30 seconds they will think this was all a big joke and release Jessica.

It’s been established that Kilgrave’s influence only lasts for about twenty four hours, then the victim is free of his influence and remembers everything.

There’s no way a bunch of cops would let this go once their twenty four hours is up. They would remember and be very angry. This would be too big for Kilgrave to ‘mind-control’ his way out of. His success is dependent on remaining essentially anonymous.

It is a giant plot inconsistency. And it irked me, so I wrote this post about it.

The thing about fiction, and particularly science fiction/fantasy, is that in order for the reader to enter into an agreement with the author to suspend their belief and engage with the story, the world building including characters, has to be consistent. It can be completely off the wall but it has to be consistently off the wall. Even a small detail can trigger the tripwire and the story’s a goner.

I now sincerely and humbly light a candle on the altar of Seshat the Goddess of Writing, so that I may never have any plot or character inconsistencies … but if I do may they be small ones … here and there … occasionally. Very occasionally.

I am hopeful the remaining episodes will to be able to re-ensnare me. I’ll let you know.

‘House of Cards’ … Mind Blown.

Remember a while back when I said I had a bit more to say about TV shows?  Here it is.

I glimpsed the promos for House of Cards in the sidebars of websites I visit, and although I admire Kevin Spacey from the time I came across ‘The Usual Suspects’ on late night TV, I wasn’t interested in another drama about fictional US politics, nor am I a big fan of the genre.

I had it on my TBW list for a time when I had nothing else to do (hah!) but I rarely thought twice about it … until one night … I was bored more than anything else and I thought, ‘what the Hades’, and ‘what have I got to lose?’

Don’t’cha hate it when you ask yourself that question and the Universe answers?

From the first scene of the first episode of Season 1 to the last scene filmed for Season 2, I was mesmerised. This was ‘The West Wing’ meets ‘Game of Thrones’. Excellent acting and direction, meets great writing, meets the fourth wall. If you’re into this type of drama, I recommend giving it a try.

The most amazing thing though was coming across this video of Kevin Spacey talking about giving the consumer, (TV viewer in this case) what they want, how they want it, and sit back and watch them voraciously consume it.

That resonated with me because it’s what our consumers (readers) want as well. They don’t give a tinkers cuss about the Big Five (Four, Three) versus Indie publishing, or any of the industry’s other battles, scandals, etc. (Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t pay attention to these things, in fact it behooves us to pay just as much attention to the business side of writing as we do to the creative side)

Readers want well written, engaging stories they can read on their cellphones, tablets, PC’s, (OK maybe I’m the only one who reads ebooks on my PC) listen to it via an audiobook, or read a print copy … and it’s up to us to give it to ‘em.

Warehouse 13 – Grande Finale

(Looks like I’m in a TV frame of mind at the moment)

If you don’t want to know what happened in final season of Warehouse 13 because you haven’t watched it yet, turn away now.

Stick your fingers in your ears and go, “la, la, la, la,” all the way out of the room.

I’m serious.

No peeking through the keyhole.

Right. Now it’s just us.

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First up:
What this post’s title really is: ‘Warehouse 13 – not-so-Grande Finale.’ I wish the person calling the shots this season had been … braver.

There was this:
Deep down I never really expected the show to deliver on any kind of happy ending for Myka and Helena, that was too much to ask for, and we’ve had our hearts broken too many times, but what they did to Myka and Pete, well, it was worse than the nothingness of Myka and Helena G. Wells.

Throughout the previous four seasons there was never any romance between Myka and Pete until the ham-fisted way it was inserted into the truncated nonsense laughingly called Season 5. Up until then they’d only had a buddy or sister/brother relationship. They loved each other, sure, but in love?

In my minds eye, after they kissed they both paused while we, the audience, held our collective breath, then they wiped their mouths with the backs of their hands, said, “Nope,” and scuttled off in different directions, never to mention it again. That would’ve been true to the characters that’d evolved over the preceding four seasons, and true to the overall whimsical humor of the show.

And then:
Characters reflecting on their story arcs throughout the life of the show is a tried and true method of ending a show, and this was no exception. At least we didn’t have to sit through ‘re-runs’ of episodes we’d already seen.

Artie has an all-growed-up son. (let’s introduce that little gem in the final episode) Artie also has a wonderful melt-down about how he has devoted the last 40 years of his life to the Warehouse, and what does he get in return? Bupkis! The Warehouse goes all ‘aww, shucks’ and sheepishly rolls an apple toward him. All is forgiven.

Steve found his nirvana inside Artie’s heart, literally. Which was another of those ‘Really? How nice for you. Next.’ moments that needed a whole episode devoted to it. At least we got another glimpse of HG

And then there was this:
The way the ‘where’s HG?’ question was dealt with.

Do you remember a show called ‘L.A. Law’? It was all the rage way back last century. They got very daring one season and had a lesbian/bisexual character by the name of CJ, I think it was. Well, CJ and one of the main cast shared a kiss. As you can imagine it was rather controversial. (And marked the beginning of the ‘lesbian kiss’ trope for episodes of shows that aired during what’s known as ‘sweeps’ periods to boost ratings and increase advertising revenue)

A season later, someone mentions that CJ, a high powered lawyer in a high powered prestigious law firm, chose to leave the firm to join the women’s professional GOLF CIRCUIT!!!!! … End. Of. Story.

I’m not knocking professional sportswomen. This was lazy (and insulting, and disrespectful) writing – a horse of a completely different kettle of fish.

Disbelief circled the globe at the speed of analogue telephones and printing presses (this was before the interwebs) that such a powerful storyline had been tossed out with the garbage. However it was 1991.

Anyway … Back to HG. When asked about HG, Myka casually mentions that she’s not with that bloke anymore and is seeing someone named Giselle. End. Of. Story. Pete makes the expected squicky comment, then it’s on with the retrospectives.

I watched in disbelief, transported over 20 years back in time. H.G. and Myka deserved better than that.

And there’s a dollop of ludicrous:
What the hell was up with Pete’s hair?

At last:
Claudia – showgirl and leather mistress all in one episode! How cool is that? (one day, in another universe, Claudia shall have a show all of her very own)

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No-one made Myka light up like HG, no-one – and that’s canon!

 

Farewell Christina Yang

I never meant to fall in love with Grey’s Anatomy, but they made me.

I resisted the temptation for years, then Callie Torres came out and I thought to myself I would watch a few episodes, just so I could keep my ‘les-cred.’ (we have to watch at least one episode of any TV show that has a for-real lesbian or bisexual character in order to keep our membership current) Unfortunately, those plucky interns got their hooks into me and I was done ‘fer.

This isn’t a review of the show or even of the season finale, it’s simply to say, “Thank you, Sandra Oh.”

Sandra Oh

Pic via Wikipedia