Sunday, June 26, 2011

Falling Skies Review

I watched the first couple episodes of Falling Skies... three episodes?.. last night, back to back.

I have issues.

Those issues are likely related to the fact that I read science fiction and I've seen post invasion scenarios done before. Life as we know ends. How do humans survive? How do they organize themselves. It's been done and it's been done well. It's been done and done poorly. The idea is primal. There is a reason it's an idea picked up again and again.

So what happened to the other television efforts? The Event? V?

My nits from the beginning of this one... Child psych... They have the kids (the kid) seeming the least able to adjust to this terrifying new world. This seems unlikely and unsupported by both anecdote and History. But it does provide a chain-jerking intro to the facts of events. I found it annoying.

The hero... a History professor with an interest in military History. Nothing wrong with that. Enter the military which, naturally, disparages military History. Oh, noes! Not another "military people are autocratic and incurious" stereotype! And it's actually made somewhat worse by what seems to be efforts to show the military leadership as more or less right, which means someone is *trying* to be fair... right or not, they are still incurious and autocratic.

The military/civilian division. This I can't see, but it's obviously meant as a source of ongoing conflict. Again, the History professor is the voice of wisdom. If it were me arranging things in my post-invasion world, everyone in the community of traveling soldiers, combatants and camp-followers, would be organized into the organization itself. No division. How could there be?

The aliens... so far so good. They capture children and attach a big insect to their spinal column and walk them around like zombies. When people try to remove the organism it kills the child. This isn't a spoiler, it's part of the Child Psych intro briefing to the show. No one knows why the aliens do this inexplicable thing. There were internal hints that the "leashed" children had something to do with the bipedal war robots (the aliens being somewhat spider-like). I can see interesting places to go with that. They aren't rational, but who says aliens have to be rational?

I may watch a bit more, to see what happens. But IMO the only real thing that could save it is if the "leashed" children are programing an organism that is then put into the bipedal robots and at least some of the robots experience a sort of Robocop type reawakening and start to work with the humans. (I use Robocop as an example because I doubt as many people would get a Full Metal Alchemist reference.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Season 5 Episode 5

Back when Sandra Bernhadt was still funny. Couldn't act, but this is still one of my favorite episodes the way it spoofs Romance novels. Way. Too. Funny.

And clever, too. His "true" version of the romance novel is hysterical. "But I will... protect... what is left... of the lady's honor."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Besides, what's wrong with rewards, anyhow?

The alternative is "getting the girl" for doing absolutely nothing.

The death of sexy television

So maybe you can tell me what happened, or which are the wrong television shows I'm not watching, but whatever happened to romance, whatever happened to sexy?

Granted, Highlander is sort of overboard in that department, and I'd actually like to get a male perspective on this, because Duncan Macleod seems so... purposefully beefcake-y... I mention this show to women in a completely neutral way, and if they have a clue what I'm talking about they need no prompt for a near universal response: a fraction of a second of complete stillness followed by an indrawn breath followed by some variation of, "Dang, he's hot."

Now I suppose a feminist scold would insist that the guy "getting the girl" in each show is a bad thing and places the woman as a reward and we should avoid that. Are we avoiding that? Common wisdom is that there is more sex on television than ever before. Is there? And if there is, what has changed? Is it simply my imagination that in the 80's and 90's that "getting the girl" was fairly common in action/adventures, and not just in Highlander? I honestly can't think of any examples to support my thesis. It just *seems* like it must be so.

I mentioned that Christopher Chance in the show Human Target had female guest stars that provided a measure of sexual tension between them, but he never slept with them. In the show Justified the guy, Raylan Givens, sleeps with Ava and also with his ex-wife Winona, but I'm not so sure it counts. In A-Team Face was always making it with the ladies, though off-stage and implied. Colonel Hogan was also what we might call highly successful.

But, in contravention of my thesis, there was Riker, the slut. Nope, on second look... 1987 to 1994 for TNG supports my thesis... except that it was done so poorly that who would believe the passion? No one I know would ever become completely still for a fraction of a second, breath in and then proclaim "Oh, he is soooo hot."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Watching Highlander Again

Because I CAN! Bwa ha ha ha!

Anyhow... I'm into season two, dreading each reappearance of Ritchie... and starting to feel guilty about that. And I generally cringe whenever they have Charlie (Charlie? DeSalva? Whatever.) try to "act like a former SEAL." And I'm probably the only person who doesn't adore Amanda. (Reminds me of Q on Star Trek.) Because I remember a great deal of most episodes I'm finding myself being a little more analytical than usual.

Today I was thinking about the changes between season one and season two and happened to think of another of my favorite televisions shows... the first season of Human Target. Just the first season.

In the first season of Highlander Duncan was passionately in love with a mortal woman. I don't know if someone decided to make him single, or if the actress decided to leave the show so they had to do without her, but in about episode 3 of season 2, she dies. Duncan moves away from the antique store to a more masculine venue, buying a gym and moving into snazzy bachelor digs in the building. Two new male "regulars" join the show... Dawson and DeSalva. Testosterone oozes from every frame. And trust me, women LOVE this show.

The first season of Human Target was an adventure / bromance show featuring Christopher Chance and two other men. Winston, a former cop and good-guy who is interested in Chance's redemption, and Guerrero, an amoral monster who's only redeeming feature is loyalty to Chance. Each episode brought a new adventure, and about half of the time a sexy woman to play against Chance's near monastic existence. Chance is alternately seeking his own redemption or death, he doesn't have much faith in redemption and he figures he deserves death. This was a great over the top adventure show with some serious moral undertones.

So on to season two... What did they do? They added girls. Let's broaden (heh... I punned) the appeal of this manly adventure! And we get Mrs. Pucci (yes... poochie...) as a fabulously rich benefactor and naif... and Avery (I think her name was) to be a perky and annoying apprentice to Guerrero... which was actually sort of a fun relationship for an episode or two. Winston is sort of left on his own, no longer the moral compass - having given that up to Pucci, and without a new female cast member to play off against because, Dum dum dum!, Pucci and Chance are paired. Pucci classes up their bachelor digs and gives them a jet to use and is shocked, shocked!, to find that gambling is going on in this establish... well, no, but nefarious law-breaking... how shocking to hire a former professional hit man and his crew of "outside the law" bodyguards and find that they... DUM DUM DA DUM!... break the law!

Most of season two wasn't terrible... but it wasn't good either. Maybe if Avery was only an occasional helper on a caper and if Pucci had been as she promised an *absentee* owner and less of a naif... maybe if it was still about the relationships between the men instead of the relationships between the men and women... maybe if Pucci and Winston had found common ground instead of Pucci and Chance...

Highlander played for six seasons.

Sure, Adrian Paul is a sexy guy, but Mark Valley isn't chopped liver either. Duncan and Chance are similar characters... tortured by their past, trying to make up for evil they've done, lonely and alone - ultimately, and asked to make the hard moral choices at the expense of their own souls, and doing so.