JANUARY 9, 2010
A full work week and I still haven't caught up with everything yet! So much left to do.
I started watching Defying Gravity (nothing to do with Wicked) and Misfits today. The first was a CTV show that aired on ABC and was cancelled after 8 episodes, despite being a good show. It happens to too many of my shows, and this one was actually quality. Not a soap opera, not a nerd show, not filler, with some good writing and a 3-season arc to the storyline that (to me) had great potential. Too bad it won't happen. It's about 8 astronauts going on a mission to Venus, and its tone is more character drama than scifi. The major dramatic relationship is that between mission control and the astronauts: what is communicated is based on what one thinks the other needs, and how mission control takes care to remove all psychologically troubling factors from view of the astronauts. For example, one character has a husband who drives his car into a girl, putting her into a coma. Mission Control covers it up and puts him back on post, ordering him not to say anything to make sure these stressors don't affect the astronaut on board the ship. It's a practical consideration - if an astronaut becomes unreliable, it's 10 trillion dollars plus 7 other people's lives on the line. The other dramatic relationships are the fodder to most dramas - husband and wife, man and girlfriend with ex still hanging around, the rude sexist nerd who may have a gentler side, struggles in faith within the devout, guilt issues with war and loss and secrets... Of course, there is the more scifi end, which revolves around the premise that there is a secret reason for the voyage other than the usual "explore X planet" and "one giant step for mankind" and all that. It's not discussed till much later in the show, but apparently an alien being of some sort was found on Earth and all subsequent attempts to explore space after that point were to discover more things about the alien being. The alien being, however, is not visible to everybody and so those who don't see it somehow feel cheated of some spiritual experience and alone in this feeling. This loneliness is compounded by being 30 million kilometers away in space with people who can't possibly sympathize.
On a less positive note, I want to offer a general criticism to scifi nerds. Scifi nerds don't like dramas: they like lots of aliens, lots of phasers, little subtlety, and lots of hot alien chicks (versus hot human chicks) to see gratuitous love scenes with (as long as it's not accompanied by the, ugh, emotions that go around that sort of thing...). The show got called Grey's Astronomy by some smug scifi asshole and that's just insulting - the fact that it has actual drama in it doesn't immediately discredit the show. I read up on the torrent site forums and there's so much hating going on. For example, comparison to Virtuality. It is slightly similar in that it's on a spaceship with few people, but that one had a crazy AI doing psychotic stuff in VR (to keep the astronauts occupied during long travel). Other than that, there's hardly anything to parallel. Yes, it was Ron Moore but that's not an immediate in: I am looking forward to Caprica as that preview movie they made was exciting, but the Virtuality pilot was really boring - and probably why it didn't get picked up by any network at all. Also, for some reason, I'm bugged by Clea DuVall.
The other show is on BBC4 and as yet, I've only watched the pilot episode. It follows 4 juvenile delinquents in the UK who are doing community service unwillingly and then get hit by lightning in a freak storm. The superpowers they get after that are not necessarily useful, and there's almost nothing redeeming about any of the kids - so them ever being heroes is something extremely unlikely. It's British TV so they're loose with the Puritan morals. They have sex, they swear and they talk in thick enough accents that network TV producers would never allow. The casting is actually brilliant too, as is the costuming. The drugged up wanksta (who dies and is stuffed in a locker) totally fits the bill, as does the ugly chav slut (not as derogatory as it seems, as the characters refer to her as ugly, a chav and a slut), the arrogant little pissant that thinks he's the shit but whom everybody hates and always will, a hot piece of ass that doesn't know she otherwise boring as shit, a withdrawn type that could be emo or nerdy but falls short even in those regards and finally the black dude that was about to go to the bigtime with the Olympics but has regressed to being a nobody in juvie after getting caught with some blow. These 4 (living) characters have a lot of potential as they've already been assessed and found wanting even before they've actually done anything. These are characters that have a lot to prove to everybody. I like that, since a lot of shows have characters that are too high up in the socialization scale to count as real people. Sure, those shows include stereotyped losers that are there as comic relief, but they hardly ever risk enough to have all the characters there. So far, the invisible guy gets invisibility (which is already sadly affecting before they demonstrate it), the black dude can rewind time (which can't be proven to anyone else, but he knows), the chav slut can hear what everybody is thinking (which is usually about her being a chav or a slut... even her dog) and the arrogant pissant knows he should have something but doesn't actually seem to have a power yet. Maybe he never will. Like Kids (great movie btw), it's pretty blunt and in a realistic style. It's not over-dramatic as a Nick or Disney channel show about teens is, and it's definitely not soap-opera social hot button drama like Degrassi. I like that kind of thing.
Other new entertainment things? There's a live-action film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast the musical. Chuck is returning, Heroes is probably gonna get dumped soon (even though it's the most downloaded show based on torrent volume... what a conundrum for TV economists when their most popular show is also their least popular show... on the bright side, American Idol has no resale value), White Collar is back as is Southland (on TNT, as NBC just makes bad decision after decision in relation to shows... nice going with the Jay Leno thing!). I hope Raising the Bar comes back, because I REALLY enjoy that show. I like shows that make me get really strong opinions.
Zuke just sneezed.