P. N. Elrod (p_n_elrod) wrote,
P. N. Elrod

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Hm.  Can't get more clear than that.

Supernatural Friday now being on the scene it's good that I have friends with a Tivo.  Not only were we able to watch hour long shows in a mere 40 minutes, we managed to squeeze in a couple of episodes of a Brit series all before midnight.  It's amazing how much time you have left over when you blip through advertising for crap you neither want nor can afford.
We gathered at Rachel Caine's castle (me, macgyvergal & their spouses) for pizza, talk, and serious TV watching last night.
No actual TV was involved.  Castle Caine has one somewhere, but the video room does not.  They have more sound equipment than NASA and a complicated setup that includes a Tivo, projector, and a 100 square foot screen mounted on a 20-foot tall wall, artistically framed by silk plants.
This setup raises "home theater" to a whole 'nother level.  I'd like one for myself, but the only time I ever just sit and watch a show is at the castle.  At home I'm always doing 2-3 other things (work related) when the telly is running.
But on TV night I recline in a comfy sling chair and pay attention to the screen action.  On so large a screen really good shows get better, but it amplifies the flaws in the borderline ones.
For instance, when Dresden Files was on, I'd see it on my own regular TV at home and on the big screen at the castle.  It was GREAT on both venues, if not better on the large screen.  It freakin' RAWKED.
Now that you have a picture of the picture I saw I'll get down to a few reviews.
Ahead lie BIG FAT HAIRY SPOILERS on Numb3rs, Bionic Woman, Stargate Atlantis, and Moonlight.  If you've not seen them, move on to the next blog on your list and come back later when you have.

# # #
Numb3rs RAWKED.  Tight script and good acting, thumbs up all the way.
Larry and Charlie have an awful lot of face stubble, though.  Larry's having a time out in the monastery, so he's got an excuse, but it doesn't suit Charlie.  I'm not as fond of beard burn as I once was--oh, wait, I never did like it.  Sandpaper applied to sensitive parts just doesn't do it for me.  If I've gone to the trouble of shaving, then the guy can return the favor.
Scruffy looks ok when there's a reason for it: like Indiana Jones has fought his way through wild jungle and cranky locals to save you from being thrown to the spider god--yes, he has a right to be a bit roughed up.  But a California mathematics genius with access to indoor plumbing in his million dollar Craftsman home really needs to clean up a bit so he doesn't look like some professional grad student who lives with his dad.  I was glad to see him in his usual mismatched suit, plaid shirt, and tie in one scene.  He was cleaned up and looked fine.  Charlie cleaned up inspires a girl to make him look contentedly messy again!
Right...um...the episode---excellent acting and directing.  I was blown away by it all.  Great camera work and editing.  The only false note was using a very un-sexy Val Kilmer (Dude!! Get back to the damn gym and lose the gut--that shirt hanging loose over your pants didn't fool anyone!) in a reprise of Marathon Man's interrogation scene.  He didn't actually do a send up of Olivier, and was nasty creepy, but I wanted the lovely Val out of those vomit yellow glass frames, in shape...and shaved.  Yes, he was stubbly, too.  And he looked so deliciously doable in The Saint.  *heaving a heavy sigh that something so good has gone so wrong*
# # #
Bionic Woman:  Well done!  I was reminded by others that the lead was the same actress who played in BBC's Jekyll, which was a show several levels past awesome.  Intelligent actors running with a good, tight script is always a treat, and check it out, there's hotty Miguel Ferrer whose character is sitting on a fence.  Is he a good 'un or a bad 'un? Time will tell and please can I ambush him with a full body tackle so he may enjoy the lush delights of a full-figured woman?
Kaytee Sackhoff damn near stole the show.  She's one hell of a Starbuck, but oh, my lord, what a Bad 'Un!  She does psychotic bitch queen from hell with an attitude SO well!
The big screen improved this show, but reality check memo to the Makeup Department.  If I've been through a killer car smash, survived the trauma of having my body parts replaced, etc. I sincerely doubt that my mascara will still be fresh and adhering to my lashes.  Oh--it's bionic mascara?  Why didn't you say?
# # #
Stargate Atlantis:  I didn't like this show when it came out, I only liked certain characters IN the show.  McKay, Beckett, Zelenka --the gorgeous geeks, yes, bring them ON. 
The other characters, including Large Kong Fighter Dude With REALLY Bad Hair and possible B.O. problem, Female Teal'c-Lite Who Doesn't Quite Pull Off The I Never Use Contractions Device, and Mr. Hair Gel could all get spaced.  There, it's out.  I have no time for those three, and actively dislike the Civilian in Command Chick.
So the season closer, which sent her hurtling across the room in a killer explosion left me in a good mood all summer.  I was really looking forward to  having her bumped off.
Shock, consternation!  Pat, how COULD you??  Strong female characters are in short supply on the tube!
Indeed, yes, but hers was not well done.  Most of her character's action involved delivering lines in an impatient handing-down-a-decree format, followed by a huffy exit from the room.  Shatner could get away with it, but not this one.  That she spent most of this episode in a coma with a tube down her throat delighted me no end.
I can't wait for Sam Carter to swoop in and take over.  Maybe she can get Sheppard to behave--and LOOK--like an Air Force officer.
General O'Neill has the good sense to shave.  O'Neill looks like he's an officer in the armed services.  Sheppard looks like a slacker the MPs scraped off the barroom floor and he's wondering why they dropped him on the set.

I suppose Sheppard is supposed to be an O'Neill type to catch the younger viewers, and certainly it's worked with many.  Trouble is, he's not acting like a real officer should.  I recall one scene from the last season where good ol' Shep was the FIRST through the Stargate in the group's escape from the blue meanies.  

O'Neill was always the LAST one through, and not because RDA has bad knees.  He's the commander, and it's his duty and job to look after his people, not keep his own (freakin' HAWT) ass safe.  It also allowed him to snark at the bad guys, which is always fun to watch.
Snark aside, we're off to a rousing start eliminating the least effective characters if they can please write Huffy Leader out of the show for good.  Shep I could *almost* tolerate if they get rid of Teal'c-Lite and Hulk-Dude.  Whenever they have a scene I long to turn the sound down.  Sorry folks, the writers could have done a better job inventing those supporting characters, I just don't like 'em.
Ahh--but the sexy hawt gorgeous geeks of the show keep me coming back, wading through the dross to get to the gold. 
I adore McKay.  He says exactly what he thinks and feels, no pretense, no social skills, and a big ol' huggable bunch of vulnerability.  I can SO identify with that.  (Those who've not met me in person--you have now been warned!  My friends accept it, and the not-friends mistake the vulnerability for weakness.  Ha!)
Zelenka muttering, oh, yeah, baby, mutter over me like that!  I love when you talk dirty technobabble!  And no, I don't mind YOUR beard stubble at all.
Beckett!!!!  They FUCKING KILLED YOU, THE BASTARDS!  I loved your humanity (and other things, too).  But it being S/F, they can bring your parallel and flashback self back in guest shots, and I heard you're gonna play Scotty in a Trek franchise effort, so go forth, enjoy.
Awesome effects shot:  When the camera does that full circle around in the bit where Sheppard throws Zelenka across that empty span so they can get to the next plot point.  I was breathless.  WAY TO GO Special Effects Geeks!!  That was one hell of a money shot--thank you!
# # #
Right, the last review.  A few of you have heard my ominous grumbles.  Time for Pat to cut loose.  Brace for incoming on...
Moonlight:  It ranged from barely adequate to just plain bad. And the bad was really baaaad.

Younger viewers who have never seen Forever Knight won't get why the rest of us are groaning in pain.  It's been done before and better.
First we're given the "Vampire Rules" for the show so we're all clear on their limits and powers.  And this device was all tell and no show.  Yanno, TV being a visual medium it might have been better if the writers had actually SHOWN a scene where we could SEE the dude's superpowers in action.  Just a thought.  It would be nice of you to spare the actor from trying to hide his embarrassment as he bravely tries to get through his lines.  (They call me in to deliver this exposition crap at the last minute because the writers couldn't be bothered to come up with something better?  This is my frickin' day OFF!  Damn skippy I'm gonna talk to my agent!

If you must have talking heads couldn't you have also ripped off that creative insert editing thing they do on Boston Legal?  It keeps things in motion.
Oh, hey--your budget constraints are showing!  (It's cheaper to film a guy in a white room than a guy doing interesting action stuff, y'see.)  And buy yourself a better editing team.  I was falling asleep from the lack of movement.
That clumsiness out of the way...bear with me, I'm struggling hard to recall what I actually liked about it.
They've got a vampire detective who uses his powers for good and for solving crime--where have we heard that before?  

Gosh, you think ANY of this lot has seen MY Vampire Files

or Forever Knight 

or Buffy 

or Angel
or Blade

or Tanya Huff's Blood Ties 

or Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse 

or Lee Killough's Gareth Mikaelian series?  To name a few.
Nope, the Moonlight folk want to pretend allllll that inconvenience doesn't exist.  They've been putting out that "we're doing things DIFFERENT, pay no attention to that crowd behind the curtain!"  

You aren't and it isn't.  It didn't work. 
You hopeful producers of Moonlight, your freaking target audience--and trust me, we're all pretty damned smart--HAVE seen it all before!  You're acting like you've invented the genre.  Maybe if you had I'd like it better.  But we're savvy to the whole Vampire Thing.  Really.  We've got the T-shirts and coffee mugs to prove it.

My own personal t-Shirt: JOSS WHEDON IS MY MASTER.     
I *might* warm up to the show if they'd just admit "Yes, there are and have been other vampire shows out there--this is *our* take on the theme."  But this fingers in the ears la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you 'tude is just insulting to the fans.

I think we're all clear that the pilot episode is a clumsy rip-off of the Forever Knight (90's vintage) pilot.  There's a vampire serial killer loose, the real vamps claim they're not behind it, oh look, it's really a crazy human.  Only Forever Knight did it so much BETTER.

What are producers/writers/network Suits smoking that they thought we wouldn't notice?
Strike one--the vampire with the self-conscious name is INJECTING himself with blood?  Ick.  I suppose it's to keep his "dark nature" in check.  On the other hand it neatly disposes of the need for the character to have any real internal conflict over his condition.  (Yeah, they ripped this one off from Blade, yet another--better--show.)

On Forever Knight Nick's need for blood (The Moonlight hero's name is Mick, but they're being DIFFERENT y'see!) was like an addiction.  He had to fight the urge, old-school, and his internal conflict was a treat to see.

All this new kid has to do to avoid problems is to shoot up! (Anyone else groking to the irony here?)  Of course shoving a needle in his arm hurts real, real bad, oh, the agony, the angst!

Needles squick me out, BTW.
Strike two--his eyes flush blood red after feeding.  They so totally ripped that off from me!
Strike three--the blond reporter chick needs to stop acting so hard and just say the damn lines. 
That was Kate Hepburn's advice to Anthony Hopkins when they were working in The Lion in Winter.  "Just say the lines" she told him and he took it to heart.  The blond reporter chick had, oh, about one scene where she got her balance and did that.  The rest of the time she was either trying too hard or self-consciously reciting the script.  I could almost see her newly memorized pages with their Courier font stashed out of camera range in every scene.

The other actors knew what they were doing; she was out of her high school drama department depth.  ("B-b-but I had the lead in the senior production of Bye-Bye Birdie!")  Short scenes with the other actors just doing their guest thing only show up her shortcomings in the talent department.  I wonder why they didn't cast any of the other actresses in the role, since they were so painfully better at the job.  

She's geared her character to play as though she's in a Disney kiddie show, while the others are aware they're in a prime time network production.  (Hm--maybe she's on to something here.)

Perhaps in future episodes she can get her balance and keep up, but for now, she stinks.
Strike Four--I'll end the baseball theme, the team is off the field on the way back to the dugout, heads hanging in shame, since number four has to do with the countless bald-faced rip-offs they've done from other shows and books.
Instead of LaCroix (who also "died" a fiery death in the FK pilot) the hero has his crazy ex-wife.  She's LaCroix and Janette mashed together like Play Dough, but minus the charm, sophistication, and intellect, and no, the hero did not make absolutely certain she was dead.  They're bringing her back, trust me on that.
Rule One for offing a BAD vampire, make sure the mother-fucker ain't getting up again.  In my last book I killed one off.  It involved a lot of serious mayhem, and that person is NOT coming back, period.  Macgyvergal & Rachelcaine will back me up on that one, it's DEAD, Jim.

She's not even a good crazy ex-wife.  

"Look, vampy husband!  I have a stolen kid and we can be a family again, isn't that nice?"  

Yeah, right, like that's ever worked.  They didn't have the smarts to come up with a really cool crazy ex, like the delightfully deranged Fiona on Burn Notice.  She's insane, but functional and danged smart.

And Fiona dresses better.  Just where do crazed vampire chicks come up with the filmy, flowy white gowns?  I'm thinking a retro sale at the Hammer films costume department. They can't find that cliche crap at the local shopping mall.  Maybe eBay?

The hero of the show: The actor did the best he could with the material he was given, but I felt no sparkage. He looks embarrassed to be collecting a check for doing this lame gig.

I hope he gets better writing down the road, but I'm not holding my breath.  He's got the brood to a minimum-- "being a vampire sucks" ---yo--writers!  That one's older than Dracula's birth certificate.  Cut us a break and stop smoking the whacky weed.

What's up with him sleeping in a deep freeze?  There's no reason given for that.  If the guy is dead and freezing keeps him from rotting, well, sooner or later spritzing Right Guard in his pits just ain't gonna hack it.

And anyway, the freezer thing was swiped from Christopher Moore's hilarious Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story--which everyone needs to read, BTW.  The vamp-in-a-freezer is part of the plot, but Moore did it first and for a good reason, though my favorite part was the turkey bowling tourney.

Weakest link--the direction.  Flatter than Kansas.  There could have been SOME tension in the scene where the red herring is trying his--OMG I am NOT making this up--Pranic Energy Fu on the reporter chick.  A tense close up, a little menace to make me doubt that he's anything other than a red herring would have been nice.  I'm a film school drop out and could have done better given a half-decent director of photography who was awake.
Things I did like on the show-- the rich vampire dude played by the guy who was Logan on Veronica Mars.
HE had a clue on how to play his part and did it very well--but the writers fucked up again.  He bites a chick in the arm and she goes all orgasmic, just like that.  YOU CALL THAT FOREPLAY??  Dude, here's a copy of The Joy of Sex, now at least look at the damn pictures!
Other things I liked?  The hero's apartment.  I really liked the bookshelves, those were most cool.  And what a great kitchen to have--for a guy who doesn't actually need to cook.
(Oh, brother, you know a show is in trouble when I'm admiring the set instead of paying attention to the story.)
We got all talk, not much action.  Yes, we had F/X shots of super vamp running and some stuntmen throwing each other around.  We got to see the dental work and Wal*mart white contact lenses.  But they do that SO much BETTER on Blood Ties.

Just a note--his fangs are just too frickin' SHORT to get the job done.  If that's a Phallic Symbol Thing, the hero needs one of those little blue pills or a new dentist.
Plot hole--the head honcho vamp makes a special trip to tell hero "We have to be SECRET about the Vampire Thing, dude."  So what happens?  The hero vamps out to scare the red herring so the red herring will learn his lesson and stop boinking co-eds in the basement.  Sheesh.  Forever Knight played freak-the-mortals so much BETTER.
What was missing to make it at least barely watchable for me?
A freakin' sense of humor. We ALL agreed on that one.  Boss vampire Logan-guy had some, but the rest of the pilot was grimmer than Halloween night at a Fundamentalist church.  All the other sources that the writers are pretending so hard they never heard of but ripped off all the same have HUMOR in the mix!
I'm glad Moonlight is giving work to a bunch of actors (and the blond reporter chick), but I hope it dies an early death.  The pilot (I knew it was the TA behind it all the moment I saw him) was wobbly at best and supremely--I'll use "derivative" rather than "rip-off", though the latter is much more appropriate.
Moonlight is on my watching schedule for as long as it lasts--the others in the media room have hope that it will improve.  I'll watch and if things don't get better, I'll keep my gob shut and try not to groan too loud.  As a guest in another's house, it behooves me to behave myself.  After all, it's the TV show that's painful to see, not my friends.
Please, please, please gawd, BRING BACK DRESDEN FILES!!!!!  PLEEEEASE!!!!!
:goes into withdrawal spasms:
Tags: bionic woman, forever knight, moonlight and rip-offs, numb3rs, stargate atlantis
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